Multiple binding of methyl-CpG and polycomb proteins in long-term gene silencing events

M. R. Matarazzo, M. L. De Bonis, M. Strazzullo, A. Cerase, M. Ferraro, P. Vastarelli, E. Ballestar, M. Esteller, S. Kudo, M. D'Esposito

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Epigenetic regulation is involved in the maintenance of long-term silencing phenomena, such as X-inactivation and genomic imprinting in mammals. Gene repression is mediated by several mechanisms, such as histone modifications, DNA methylation, and recruitment of Polycomb proteins. To understand the mechanistic relationships between these mechanisms for stable gene silencing, we analyzed the mechanisms of X- and Y-inactivation of the PAR2 gene SYBL1, previously showed to be regulated by concerted epigenetic mechanisms. Maintenance of stable repression occurs via the recruitment of both MBDPs and PRC2 complexes to SYBL1 promoter. Their binding is equally sensitive to defective DNA methylation seen in cells derived from ICF syndrome patients. Multiple occupancy is a feature shared within long-term repressed genes, such as the X-inactivated PGK1 and the imprinted IGF2. MBD2, MBD3, and MeCP2 occupy SYBL1 promoter simultaneously, as revealed by sequential ChlP. We did not find this co-occurring binding when looked for members of PRC2 complex together with any of the methyl-binding proteins. Furthermore, in co-transfection assays, MECP2 can silence methylated SYBL1 promoter, whereas the mutated protein fails. However, RNA interference of endogenous MECP2 does not induce the expression of the inactive SYBL1 alleles, suggesting that its silencing activity can be replaced by the other methyl-binding proteins. Our data suggest that maintenance of long-term silencing involves multiple layers of epigenetic control functionally redundant. PRC2 and MBD proteins could collaborate to different phases of this process, the former possibly recruiting DNMTs to the silenced promoters, the latter dictating the lock of the transcription.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-719
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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