Genome-wide signatures for heterochromatin
Interstitial heterochromatin is required to restrict aberrant expression of retrotransposons, but it remains poorly defined due to the underlying repeat-rich sequences. We dissected Suv39h-dependent histone H3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) by genome-wide ChIP-sequencing in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) (Bulut-Karslioglu et al., submitted).
Refined bioinformatic analyses of repeat subfamilies indicated selective accumulation of Suv39h-dependent H3K9me3 at interspersed repetitive elements that cover ~ 5% of the ESC epigenome. The majority of the ~ 8,150 intact long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) and endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), but only a minor fraction of the > 1.8 million degenerate and truncated LINEs/ERVs, are enriched for Suv39h-dependent H3K9me3. Transcriptional repression of these intact LINEs and ERVs is differentially regulated by Suv39h and other chromatin modifiers in ESCs but governed by DNA methylation in committed cells. These data provide a novel function for Suv39h-dependent H3K9me3 chromatin in the ESC epigenome and reveal that interstitial heterochromatin is restricted to the intact fraction of retrotransposon elements.
We plan to extend our genome-wide analyses to other core components of heterochromatin and to identify non-coding RNA moieties that associate with these factors.