Polycomb group protein complex with sequence-specific DNA-binding and selective methyl-lysine-binding activities
byKlymenko T., Papp B., Fischle W., Kocher T., Schelder M., Fritsch C., Wild B., Wilm M., Mueller J.
Klymenko T., Papp B., Fischle W., Kocher T., Schelder M., Fritsch C., Wild B., Wilm M. and Mueller J. (2006) A Polycomb group protein complex with sequence-specific DNA-binding and selective methyl-lysine-binding activities. Genes and Development 20:1110-1122
Polycomb response elements (PREs) are specific cis-regulatory sequences needed for transcriptional repression of HOX and other target genes by Polycomb group (PcG) proteins. Among the many PcG proteins known in Drosophila, Pho is the only sequence-specificDNA-binding protein. To gain insight into the function of Pho, we purified Pho protein complexes from Drosophila embryos and found that Pho exists in two distinct protein assemblies: a Pho-dINO80 complex containing the Drosophila INO80 nucleosome-remodelingcomplex, and a Pho-repressive complex (PhoRC) containing the uncharacterized gene product dSfmbt. Analysis of PhoRC reveals that dSfmbt is a novel PcG protein that is essential for HOX gene repression in Drosophila. PhoRC is bound at HOX gene PREs in vivo, and this targeting strictly depends on Pho-binding sites. Characterization of dSfmbt protein shows that its MBT repeats have unique discriminatory binding activity for methylated lysine residues in histones H3 and H4; the MBT repeats bind mono- and di-methylated H3-K9 and H4-K20 but fail to interact with these residues if they are unmodified or tri-methylated. Our results establish PhoRC as a novel Drosophila PcG protein complex that combines DNA-targeting activity (Pho) with a unique modified histone-binding activity (dSfmbt). We propose that PRE-tethered PhoRC selectively interacts with methylated histones in the chromatin flanking PREs to maintain a Polycomb-repressed chromatin state.