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Bender, LB, Suh, J, Carroll, CR, Fong, Y, Fingerman, IM, Briggs, SD, Cao, R, Zhang, Y, Reinke, V and Strome, S (2006) MES-4: an autosome-associated histone methyltransferase that participates in silencing the X chromosomes in the C. elegans germ line. Development 133:3907-17


Germ cell development in C. elegans requires that the X chromosomes be globally silenced during mitosis and early meiosis. We previously found that the nuclear proteins MES-2, MES-3, MES-4 and MES-6 regulate the different chromatin states of autosomes versus X chromosomes and are required for germline viability. Strikingly, the SET-domain protein MES-4 is concentrated on autosomes and excluded from the X chromosomes. Here, we show that MES-4 has histone H3 methyltransferase (HMT) activity in vitro, and is required for histone H3K36 dimethylation in mitotic and early meiotic germline nuclei and early embryos. MES-4 appears unlinked to transcription elongation, thus distinguishing it from other known H3K36 HMTs. Based on microarray analysis, loss of MES-4 leads to derepression of X-linked genes in the germ line. We discuss how an autosomally associated HMT may participate in silencing genes on the X chromosome, in coordination with the direct silencing effects of the other MES proteins.


PubMed PMC2435371 Online version:10.1242/dev.02584


Animals; Caenorhabditis elegans/embryology; Caenorhabditis elegans/enzymology; Caenorhabditis elegans/genetics; Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins/analysis; Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins/genetics; Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins/metabolism; Embryo, Nonmammalian/enzymology; Embryonic Development/genetics; Female; Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental; Gene Silencing; Germ Cells/cytology; Germ Cells/metabolism; Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase/analysis; Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase/genetics; Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase/metabolism; Histones/metabolism; Male; Meiosis/genetics; Methylation; Mitosis/genetics; Nuclear Proteins/metabolism; Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis; Protein Methyltransferases; Transcription, Genetic; X Chromosome/genetics; X Chromosome/metabolism