Global Analysis of the Relationship between JIL-1 Kinase and Transcription

PLOSGenetics, 2011, doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001327, published on 10.03.2011
PLOSGenetics, online article
The ubiquitous tandem kinase JIL-1 is essential for Drosophila development. Its role in defining decondensed domains of larval polytene chromosomes is well established, but its involvement in transcription regulation has remained controversial. For a first comprehensive molecular characterisation of JIL-1, we generated a high-resolution, chromosome-wide interaction profile of the kinase in Drosophila cells and determined its role in transcription. JIL-1 binds active genes along their entire length. The presence of the kinase is not proportional to average transcription levels or polymerase density. Comparison of JIL-1 association with elongating RNA polymerase and a variety of histone modifications suggests two distinct targeting principles. A basal level of JIL-1 binding can be defined that correlates best with the methylation of histone H3 at lysine 36, a mark that is placed co-transcriptionally. The additional acetylation of H4K16 defines a second state characterised by approximately twofold elevated JIL-1 levels, which is particularly prominent on the dosage-compensated male X chromosome. Phosphorylation of the histone H3 N-terminus by JIL-1 in vitro is compatible with other tail modifications. In vivo, phosphorylation of H3 at serine 10, together with acetylation at lysine 14, creates a composite histone mark that is enriched at JIL-1 binding regions. Its depletion by RNA interference leads to a modest, but significant, decrease of transcription from the male X chromosome. Collectively, the results suggest that JIL-1 participates in a complex histone modification network that characterises active, decondensed chromatin. We hypothesise that one specific role of JIL-1 may be to reinforce, rather than to establish, the status of active chromatin through the phosphorylation of histone H3 at serine 10.

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