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DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair is a highly regulated process performed predominantly by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) or homologous recombination (HR) pathways. How these pathways are coordinated in the context of chromatin is unclear. Here we uncover a role for histone H3K36 modification in regulating DSB repair pathway choice in fission yeast. We find Set2-dependent H3K36 methylation reduces chromatin accessibility, reduces resection and promotes NHEJ, while antagonistic Gcn5-dependent H3K36 acetylation increases chromatin accessibility, increases resection and promotes HR. Accordingly, loss of Set2 increases H3K36Ac, chromatin accessibility and resection, while Gcn5 loss results in the opposite phenotypes following DSB induction. Further, H3K36 modification is cell cycle regulated with Set2-dependent H3K36 methylation peaking in G1 when NHEJ occurs, while Gcn5-dependent H3K36 acetylation peaks in S/G2 when HR prevails. These findings support an H3K36 chromatin switch in regulating DSB repair pathway choice.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Acetylation, Acetyltransferases, Chromatin, DNA End-Joining Repair, DNA Repair, DNA, Fungal, Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase, Histones, Methylation, Recombinational DNA Repair, Schizosaccharomyces, Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins