Enhancer-associated H3K4 monomethylation by trithorax-related, the drosophila homolog of mammalian MLL3/MLL4

Hans Martin Herz, Man Mohan, Alexander S. Garruss, Kaiwei Liang, Yoh hei Takahashi, Kristen Mickey, Olaf Voets, C. Peter Verrijzer, Ali Shilatifard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

237 Scopus citations


Monomethylation of histone H3 on Lys 4 (H3K4me1) and acetylation of histone H3 on Lys 27 (H3K27ac) are histone modifications that are highly enriched over the body of actively transcribed genes and on enhancers. Although in yeast all H3K4 methylation patterns, including H3K4me1, are implemented by Set1/COMPASS (complex of proteins associated with Set1), there are three classes of COMPASS-like complexes in Drosophila that could carry out H3K4me1 on enhancers: dSet1, Trithorax, and Trithorax-related (Trr). Here, we report that Trr, the Drosophila homolog of the mammalian Mll3/4 COMPASS-like complexes, can function as a major H3K4 monomethyltransferase on enhancers in vivo. Loss of Trr results in a global decrease of H3K4me1 and H3K27ac levels in various tissues. Assays with the cut wing margin enhancer implied a functional role for Trr in enhancer-mediated processes. A genome-wide analysis demonstrated that Trr is required to maintain the H3K4me1 and H3K27ac chromatin signature that resembles the histone modification patterns described for enhancers. Furthermore, studies in the mammalian system suggested a role for the Trr homolog Mll3 in similar processes. Since Trr and mammalian Mll3/4 complexes are distinguished by bearing a unique subunit, the H3K27 demethylase UTX, we propose a model in which the H3K4 monomethyltransferases Trr/Mll3/Mll4 and the H3K27 demethylase UTX cooperate to regulate the transition from inactive/poised to active enhancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2604-2620
Number of pages17
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • COMPASS-like complexes
  • Enhancers
  • H3K4 monomethylation
  • Trithorax-like

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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