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Author Notes:

Corresponding author. Mailing address: 1365-C Clifton Rd., NE, Room 4086, Atlanta, GA 30322. Phone: (404) 778-3119. Fax: (404) 778-5530. E-mail: pvertin@emory.edu.

We thank Doris R. Powell for technical assistance and John Lucchesi, Paul Wade, and Maureen Powers for critical reading of the manuscript.

We are grateful to Edwin Smith for antibody against hMOF.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by the Canadian Institute of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to P.K.-V. and Public Health Service grants 2RO1 CA-077337; and CA-132065 from the National Cancer Institute to P.M.V.

P.M.V. is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar.

SUV420H2-Mediated H4K20 Trimethylation Enforces RNA Polymerase II Promoter-Proximal Pausing by Blocking hMOF-Dependent H4K16 Acetylation▿


Journal Title:

Molecular and Cellular Biology


Volume 31, Number 8


, Pages 1594-1609

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Many human genes exhibit evidence of initiated RNA polymerase II (Pol II) at their promoters, despite a lack of significant full-length transcript. Such genes exhibit promoter-proximal “pausing,” wherein initiated Pol II accumulates just downstream of the transcription start site due to a rate-limiting step mediating the transition to elongation. The mechanisms that regulate the escape of Pol II from pausing and the relationship to chromatin structure remain incompletely understood. Recently, we showed that CpG island hypermethylation and epigenetic silencing of TMS1/ASC in human breast cancers are accompanied by a local shift from histone H4 lysine 16 acetylation (H4K16Ac) to H4 lysine 20 trimethylation (H4K20me3). Here, we show that hMOF-mediated H4K16Ac and SUV420H2-mediated H4K20me3 play opposing roles in the regulation of Pol II pausing. We found that H4K16Ac promoted the release of Pol II from pausing through the recruitment of BRD4 and pTEFb. Aberrant methylation of CpG island DNA blocked Pol II recruitment to gene promoters. Whereas the inhibition of DNA methylation allowed for the reassociation and initiation of Pol II at the TMS1 promoter, Pol II remained paused in the presence of H4K20me3. Combined inhibition of H4K20me3 and DNA methylation resulted in the rerecruitment of hMOF and subsequent H4K16Ac, release of Pol II into active elongation, and synergistic reactivation of TMS1 expression. Marking by H4K20me3 was not restricted to TMS1 but also occurred at other genes independently of DNA methylation, where it similarly imposed a block to Pol II promoter escape through a mechanism that involved the local inhibition of H4K16Ac. These data indicate that H4K20me3 invokes gene repression by antagonizing hMOF-mediated H4K16Ac and suggest that overcoming Pol II pausing might be a rate-limiting step in achieving tumor suppressor gene reactivation in cancer therapy.

Copyright information:

© 2011, American Society for Microbiology

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