Characterising the binding specificities of the subunits associated with the KMT2/Set1 histone lysine methyltransferase.
Murton BL., Chin WL., Ponting CP., Itzhaki LS.
KMT2/Set1 is the catalytic subunit of the complex of proteins associated with Set1 (COMPASS) that is responsible for the methylation of lysine 4 of histone H3 (H3K4) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Whereas monomethylated H3K4 (H3K4me1) is found throughout the genome, di- (H3K4me2) and tri- (H3K4me3) methylated H3K4 are enriched at specific loci, which correlates with the promoter and 5'-ends of actively transcribed genes in the case of H3K4me3. The COMPASS subunits contain a number of domains that are conserved in homologous complexes in higher eukaryotes and are reported to interact with modified histones. However, the exact organization of these subunits and their role within the complex have not been elucidated. In this study we showed that: (1) subunits Swd1 and Swd3 form a stable heterodimer that dissociates upon binding to a modified H3K4me2 tail peptide, suggesting a regulatory role in COMPASS; (2) the affinity of the subunit Spp1 for modified histone H3 substrates is much higher than that of Swd1 and Swd3; (3) Spp1 has a preference for H3K4me2/3 methylation state; and (4) Spp1 contains a high-affinity DNA-binding domain in the previously uncharacterised C-terminal region. These data allow us to suggest a mechanism for the regulation of COMPASS activity at an actively transcribed gene.