Setdb1-mediated H3K9 methylation is enriched on the inactive X and plays a role in its epigenetic silencing

Andrew Keniry, Linden J. Gearing, Natasha Jansz, Joy Liu, Aliaksei Z. Holik, Peter F. Hickey, Sarah A. Kinkel, Darcy L Moore, Kelsey Breslin, Kelan Chen, Ruijie Liu, Catherine Phillips, Miha Pakusch, Christine Biben, Julie M. Sheridan, Benjamin T. Kile, Catherine Carmichael, Matthew E Ritchie, Douglas J. Hilton, Marnie E. Blewitt

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31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The presence of histone 3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylation on the mouse inactive X chromosome has been controversial over the last 15 years, and the functional role of H3K9 methylation in X chromosome inactivation in any species has remained largely unexplored. Results: Here we report the first genomic analysis of H3K9 di- and tri-methylation on the inactive X: we find they are enriched at the intergenic, gene poor regions of the inactive X, interspersed between H3K27 tri-methylation domains found in the gene dense regions. Although H3K9 methylation is predominantly non-genic, we find that depletion of H3K9 methylation via depletion of H3K9 methyltransferase Set domain bifurcated 1 (Setdb1) during the establishment of X inactivation, results in failure of silencing for around 150 genes on the inactive X. By contrast, we find a very minor role for Setdb1-mediated H3K9 methylation once X inactivation is fully established. In addition to failed gene silencing, we observed a specific failure to silence X-linked long-terminal repeat class repetitive elements. Conclusions: Here we have shown that H3K9 methylation clearly marks the murine inactive X chromosome. The role of this mark is most apparent during the establishment phase of gene silencing, with a more muted effect on maintenance of the silent state. Based on our data, we hypothesise that Setdb1-mediated H3K9 methylation plays a role in epigenetic silencing of the inactive X via silencing of the repeats, which itself facilitates gene silencing through alterations to the conformation of the whole inactive X chromosome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Number of pages20
JournalEpigenetics and Chromatin
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Epigenetic silencing
  • H3K9 methylation
  • Setdb1
  • X inactivation

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