Context dependency of Set1/ COMPASS-mediated histone H3 Lys4 trimethylation

Janet L. Thornton, Gerwin H. Westfield, Yoh Hei Takahashi, Malcolm Cook, Xin Gao, Ashley R. Woodfin, Jung Shin Lee, Marc A. Morgan, Jessica Jackson, Edwin R. Smith, Jean Francois Couture, Georgios Skiniotis, Ali Shilatifard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The stimulation of trimethylation of histone H3 Lys4 (H3K4) by H2B monoubiquitination (H2Bub) has been widely studied, with multiple mechanisms having been proposed for this form of histone cross-talk. Cps35/Swd2 within COMPASS (complex of proteins associated with Set1) is considered to bridge these different processes. However, a truncated form of Set1 (762-Set1) is reported to function in H3K4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) without interacting with Cps35/Swd2, and such cross-talk is attributed to the n-SET domain of Set1 and its interaction with the Cps40/Spp1 subunit of COMPASS. Here, we used biochemical, structural, in vivo, and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) sequencing (ChIP-seq) approaches to demonstrate that Cps40/Spp1 and the n-SET domain of Set1 are required for the stability of Set1 and not the cross-talk. Furthermore, the apparent wild-type levels of H3K4me3 in the 762-Set1 strain are due to the rogue methylase activity of this mutant, resulting in the mislocalization of H3K4me3 from the promoter-proximal regions to the gene bodies and intergenic regions. We also performed detailed screens and identified yeast strains lacking H2Bub but containing intact H2Bub enzymes that have normal levels of H3K4me3, suggesting that monoubiquitination may not directly stimulate COMPASS but rather works in the context of the PAF and Rad6/Bre1 complexes. Our study demonstrates that the monoubiquitination machinery and Cps35/Swd2 function to focus COMPASS's H3K4me3 activity at promoter-proximal regions in a context-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2014


  • Chromatin
  • Gene expression
  • Histone
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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