Identification of a PRC2 Accessory Subunit Required for Subtelomeric H3K27 Methylation in Neurospora crassa [Research Article]

Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) catalyzes methylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27) in genomic regions of most eukaryotes and is critical for maintenance of the associated transcriptional repression. However, the mechanisms that shape the distribution of H3K27 methylation, such as recruitment of PRC2 to chromatin and/or stimulation of PRC2 activity, are unclear. Here, using a forward genetic approach in the model organism Neurospora crassa, we identified two alleles of a gene, NCU04278, encoding an unknown PRC2 accessory subunit (PAS). Loss of PAS resulted in losses of H3K27 methylation concentrated near the chromosome ends and derepression of a subset of associated subtelomeric genes. Immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry confirmed reciprocal interactions between PAS and known PRC2 subunits, and sequence similarity searches demonstrated that PAS is not unique to N. crassa. PAS homologs likely influence the distribution of H3K27 methylation and underlying gene repression in a variety of fungal lineages.

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