Date Published:2016 Mar 3
The Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are key conserved regulators of development, initially discovered in Drosophila and now strongly implicated in human disease. Nevertheless, differing silencing properties between the Drosophila and mammalian PcG systems have been observed. While specific DNA targeting sites for PcG proteins called Polycomb response elements (PREs) have been identified only in Drosophila, involvement of non-coding RNAs for PcG targeting has been favored in mammals. Another difference lies in the distribution patterns of PcG proteins. In mouse and human cells, PcG proteins show broad distributions, significantly overlapping with H3K27me3 domains. In contrast, only sharp peaks on PRE regions are observed for most PcG proteins in Drosophila, raising the question of how large domains of H3K27me3, up to many tens of kilobases, are formed and maintained in Drosophila. In this Extra View, we provide evidence that PcG distributions on silent chromatin in Drosophila are considerably broader than previously detected. Using BioTAP-XL, a chromatin crosslinking and tandem affinity purification approach, we find a broad, rather than PRE-limited overlap of PcG proteins with H3K27me3, suggesting a conserved spreading mechanism for PcG in flies and mammals.