Histone chaperones are critical for controlling chromatin integrity during transcription, DNA replication, and DNA repair. Three conserved and essential chaperones, Spt6, Spn1/Iws1, and FACT, associate with elongating RNA polymerase II and interact with each other physically and/or functionally; however, there is little understanding of their individual functions or their relationships with each other. In this study, we selected for suppressors of a temperature-sensitive spt6 mutation that disrupts the Spt6-Spn1 physical interaction and that also causes both transcription and chromatin defects. This selection identified novel mutations in FACT. Surprisingly, suppression by FACT did not restore the Spt6-Spn1 interaction, based on coimmunoprecipitation, ChIP, and mass spectrometry experiments. Furthermore, suppression by FACT bypassed the complete loss of Spn1. Interestingly, the FACT suppressor mutations cluster along the FACT-nucleosome interface, suggesting that they alter FACT-nucleosome interactions. In agreement with this observation, we showed that the spt6 mutation that disrupts the Spt6-Spn1 interaction caused an elevated level of FACT association with chromatin, while the FACT suppressors reduced the level of FACT-chromatin association, thereby restoring a normal Spt6-FACT balance on chromatin. Taken together, these studies reveal previously unknown regulation between histone chaperones that is critical for their essential in vivo functions.
Regulatory decisions in Drosophila require Polycomb group (PcG) proteins to maintain the silent state and Trithorax group (TrxG) proteins to oppose silencing. Since PcG and TrxG are ubiquitous and lack apparent sequence specificity, a long-standing model is that targeting occurs via protein interactions; for instance, between repressors and PcG proteins. Instead, we found that Pc-repressive complex 1 (PRC1) purifies with coactivators Fs(1)h [female sterile (1) homeotic] and Enok/Br140 during embryogenesis. Fs(1)h is a TrxG member and the ortholog of BRD4, a bromodomain protein that binds to acetylated histones and is a key transcriptional coactivator in mammals. Enok and Br140, another bromodomain protein, are orthologous to subunits of a mammalian MOZ/MORF acetyltransferase complex. Here we confirm PRC1-Br140 and PRC1-Fs(1)h interactions and identify their genomic binding sites. PRC1-Br140 bind developmental genes in fly embryos, with analogous co-occupancy of PRC1 and a Br140 ortholog, BRD1, at bivalent loci in human embryonic stem (ES) cells. We propose that identification of PRC1-Br140 "bivalent complexes" in fly embryos supports and extends the bivalency model posited in mammalian cells, in which the coexistence of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 at developmental promoters represents a poised transcriptional state. We further speculate that local competition between acetylation and deacetylation may play a critical role in the resolution of bivalent protein complexes during development.
The Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are key regulators of development in Drosophila and are strongly implicated in human health and disease. How PcG complexes form repressive chromatin domains remains unclear. Using cross-linked affinity purifications of BioTAP-Polycomb (Pc) or BioTAP-Enhancer of zeste [E(z)], we captured all PcG-repressive complex 1 (PRC1) or PRC2 core components and Sex comb on midleg (Scm) as the only protein strongly enriched with both complexes. Although previously not linked to PRC2, we confirmed direct binding of Scm and PRC2 using recombinant protein expression and colocalization of Scm with PRC1, PRC2, and H3K27me3 in embryos and cultured cells using ChIP-seq (chromatin immunoprecipitation [ChIP] combined with deep sequencing). Furthermore, we found that RNAi knockdown of Scm and overexpression of the dominant-negative Scm-SAM (sterile α motif) domain both affected the binding pattern of E(z) on polytene chromosomes. Aberrant localization of the Scm-SAM domain in long contiguous regions on polytene chromosomes revealed its independent ability to spread on chromatin, consistent with its previously described ability to oligomerize in vitro. Pull-downs of BioTAP-Scm captured PRC1 and PRC2 and additional repressive complexes, including PhoRC, LINT, and CtBP. We propose that Scm is a key mediator connecting PRC1, PRC2, and transcriptional silencing. Combined with previous structural and genetic analyses, our results strongly suggest that Scm coordinates PcG complexes and polymerizes to produce broad domains of PcG silencing.
The Drosophila male-specific lethal (MSL) dosage compensation complex increases transcript levels on the single male X chromosome to equal the transcript levels in XX females. However, it is not known how the MSL complex is linked to its DNA recognition elements, the critical first step in dosage compensation. Here, we demonstrate that a previously uncharacterized zinc finger protein, CLAMP (chromatin-linked adaptor for MSL proteins), functions as the first link between the MSL complex and the X chromosome. CLAMP directly binds to the MSL complex DNA recognition elements and is required for the recruitment of the MSL complex. The discovery of CLAMP identifies a key factor required for the chromosome-specific targeting of dosage compensation, providing new insights into how subnuclear domains of coordinate gene regulation are formed within metazoan genomes.
Dosage compensation has arisen in response to the evolution of distinct male (XY) and female (XX) karyotypes. In Drosophila melanogaster, the MSL complex increases male X transcription approximately twofold. X-specific targeting is thought to occur through sequence-dependent binding to chromatin entry sites (CESs), followed by spreading in cis to active genes. We tested this model by asking how newly evolving sex chromosome arms in Drosophila miranda acquired dosage compensation. We found evidence for the creation of new CESs, with the analogous sequence and spacing as in D. melanogaster, providing strong support for the spreading model in the establishment of dosage compensation.
Dosage compensation in Drosophila melanogaster males is achieved via targeting of male-specific lethal (MSL) complex to X-linked genes. This is proposed to involve sequence-specific recognition of the X at approximately 150-300 chromatin entry sites, and subsequent spreading to active genes. Here we ask whether the spreading step requires transcription and is sequence-independent. We find that MSL complex binds, acetylates, and up-regulates autosomal genes inserted on X, but only if transcriptionally active. We conclude that a long-sought specific DNA sequence within X-linked genes is not obligatory for MSL binding. Instead, linkage and transcription play the pivotal roles in MSL targeting irrespective of gene origin and DNA sequence.
X-chromosome dosage compensation in Drosophila requires the male-specific lethal (MSL) complex, which up-regulates gene expression from the single male X chromosome. Here, we define X-chromosome-specific MSL binding at high resolution in two male cell lines and in late-stage embryos. We find that the MSL complex is highly enriched over most expressed genes, with binding biased toward the 3' end of transcription units. The binding patterns are largely similar in the distinct cell types, with approximately 600 genes clearly bound in all three cases. Genes identified as clearly bound in one cell type and not in another indicate that attraction of MSL complex correlates with expression state. Thus, sequence alone is not sufficient to explain MSL targeting. We propose that the MSL complex recognizes most X-linked genes, but only in the context of chromatin factors or modifications indicative of active transcription. Distinguishing expressed genes from the bulk of the genome is likely to be an important function common to many chromatin organizing and modifying activities.
A long-standing model postulates that X-chromosome dosage compensation in Drosophila occurs by twofold up-regulation of the single male X, but previous data cannot exclude an alternative model, in which male autosomes are down-regulated to balance gene expression. To distinguish between the two models, we used RNA interference to deplete Male-Specific Lethal (MSL) complexes from male-like tissue culture cells. We found that expression of many genes from the X chromosome decreased, while expression from the autosomes was largely unchanged. We conclude that the primary role of the MSL complex is to up-regulate the male X chromosome.