Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is known to play an important role in the regulation of early embryonic development, differentiation, and cellular proliferation by introducing methyl groups onto lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K27me3). PRC2 is tightly associated with silencing of Hox gene clusters and their sequential activation, leading to normal development and differentiation. To investigate epigenetic changes induced by PRC2 during differentiation, deposition of PRC2 components and levels of H3K27me3 were extensively examined using mouse F9 cells as a model system. Contrary to positive correlation between PRC2 deposition and H3K27me3 level, down-regulation of PRC2 components by shRNA and inhibition of EZH1/2 resulted in unexpected elevation of H3K27me3 level at the Hox gene cluster despite its global decrease. We found that metal response element binding transcriptional factor 2 (MTF2), one of sub-stoichiometric components of PRC2, was stably bound to Hox genes. Its binding capability was dependent on other core PRC2 components. A high level of H3K27me3 at Hox genes in Suz12-knock out cells was reversed by knockdown of Mtf2.This shows that MTF2 is necessary to consolidate PRC2-mediated histone methylation. Taken together, our results indicate that expression of Hox gene clusters during differentiation is strictly modulated by the activity of PRC2 secured by MTF2.
- Epigenetic silencing
- Hox genes