Fred Winston

Reim NI*, Chuang J*, Jain D*, Alver BH, Park PJ, Winston F. The conserved elongation factor Spn1 is required for normal transcription, histone modifications, and splicing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Nucleic Acids Res 2020;Abstract
Spn1/Iws1 is a conserved protein involved in transcription and chromatin dynamics, yet its general in vivo requirement for these functions is unknown. Using a Spn1 depletion system in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we demonstrate that Spn1 broadly influences several aspects of gene expression on a genome-wide scale. We show that Spn1 is globally required for normal mRNA levels and for normal splicing of ribosomal protein transcripts. Furthermore, Spn1 maintains the localization of H3K36 and H3K4 methylation across the genome and is required for normal histone levels at highly expressed genes. Finally, we show that the association of Spn1 with the transcription machinery is strongly dependent on its binding partner, Spt6, while the association of Spt6 and Set2 with transcribed regions is partially dependent on Spn1. Taken together, our results show that Spn1 affects multiple aspects of gene expression and provide additional evidence that it functions as a histone chaperone in vivo.
Shetty A*, Kallgren SP*, Demel C, Maier KC, Spatt D, Alver BH, Cramer P, Park PJ, Winston F. Spt5 Plays Vital Roles in the Control of Sense and Antisense Transcription Elongation. Mol Cell 2017;66(1):77-88.e5.Abstract

Spt5 is an essential and conserved factor that functions in transcription and co-transcriptional processes. However, many aspects of the requirement for Spt5 in transcription are poorly understood. We have analyzed the consequences of Spt5 depletion in Schizosaccharomyces pombe using four genome-wide approaches. Our results demonstrate that Spt5 is crucial for a normal rate of RNA synthesis and distribution of RNAPII over transcription units. In the absence of Spt5, RNAPII localization changes dramatically, with reduced levels and a relative accumulation over the first ∼500 bp, suggesting that Spt5 is required for transcription past a barrier. Spt5 depletion also results in widespread antisense transcription initiating within this barrier region. Deletions of this region alter the distribution of RNAPII on the sense strand, suggesting that the barrier observed after Spt5 depletion is normally a site at which Spt5 stimulates elongation. Our results reveal a global requirement for Spt5 in transcription elongation.

DeGennaro CM, Alver BH, Marguerat S, Stepanova E, Davis CP, Bähler J, Park PJ, Winston F. Spt6 regulates intragenic and antisense transcription, nucleosome positioning, and histone modifications genome-wide in fission yeast. Mol Cell Biol 2013;33(24):4779-92.Abstract

Spt6 is a highly conserved histone chaperone that interacts directly with both RNA polymerase II and histones to regulate gene expression. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the roles of Spt6, we performed genome-wide analyses of transcription, chromatin structure, and histone modifications in a Schizosaccharomyces pombe spt6 mutant. Our results demonstrate dramatic changes to transcription and chromatin structure in the mutant, including elevated antisense transcripts at >70% of all genes and general loss of the +1 nucleosome. Furthermore, Spt6 is required for marks associated with active transcription, including trimethylation of histone H3 on lysine 4, previously observed in humans but not Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and lysine 36. Taken together, our results indicate that Spt6 is critical for the accuracy of transcription and the integrity of chromatin, likely via its direct interactions with RNA polymerase II and histones.