Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, BIOL-PHD (2011)
Master of Science, Stanford University, BIOL-MS (2005)
Bachelor of Science, National Taiwan University, Botany & Zoology (2003)
The dynamic reversible methylation of lysine residues on histone proteins is central to chromatin biology. Key components are demethylase enzymes, which remove methyl moieties from lysine residues. KDM2A, a member of the Jumonji C domain-containing histone lysine demethylase family, specifically targets lower methylation states of H3K36. Here, structural studies reveal that H3K36 specificity for KDM2A is mediated by the U-shaped threading of the H3K36 peptide through a catalytic groove within KDM2A. The side chain of methylated K36 inserts into the catalytic pocket occupied by Ni(2+) and cofactor, where it is positioned and oriented for demethylation. Key residues contributing to K36me specificity on histone H3 are G33 and G34 (positioned within a narrow channel), P38 (a turn residue), and Y41 (inserts into its own pocket). Given that KDM2A was found to also bind the H3K36me3 peptide, we postulate that steric constraints could prevent α-ketoglutarate from undergoing an "off-line"-to-"in-line" transition necessary for the demethylation reaction. Furthermore, structure-guided substitutions of residues in the KDM2A catalytic pocket abrogate KDM2A-mediated functions important for suppression of cancer cell phenotypes. Together, our results deduce insights into the molecular basis underlying KDM2A regulation of the biologically important methylated H3K36 mark.
View details for DOI 10.1101/gad.246561.114
View details for PubMedID 25128496
Chromodomain Helicase DNA binding protein 5 (CHD5) is a tumor suppressor mapping to 1p36, a genomic region that is frequently deleted in human cancer. Although CHD5 belongs to the CHD family of chromatin-remodeling proteins, whether its tumor-suppressive role involves an interaction with chromatin is unknown. Here we report that Chd5 binds the unmodified N terminus of H3 through its tandem plant homeodomains (PHDs). Genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation studies reveal preferential binding of Chd5 to loci lacking the active mark H3K4me3 and also identify Chd5 targets implicated in cancer. Chd5 mutations that abrogate H3 binding are unable to inhibit proliferation or transcriptionally modulate target genes, which leads to tumorigenesis in vivo. Unlike wild-type Chd5, Chd5-PHD mutants are unable to induce differentiation or efficiently suppress the growth of human neuroblastoma in vivo. Our work defines Chd5 as an N-terminally unmodified H3-binding protein and provides functional evidence that this interaction orchestrates chromatin-mediated transcriptional programs critical for tumor suppression.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.12.009
View details for Web of Science ID 000321891400012
The recognition of distinctly modified histones by specialized 'effector' proteins constitutes a key mechanism for transducing molecular events at chromatin to biological outcomes. Effector proteins influence DNA-templated processes, including transcription, DNA recombination and DNA repair; however, no effector functions have yet been identified within the mammalian machinery that regulate DNA replication. Here we show that ORC1--a component of ORC (origin of replication complex), which mediates pre-DNA replication licensing--contains a bromo adjacent homology (BAH) domain that specifically recognizes histone H4 dimethylated at lysine 20 (H4K20me2). Recognition of H4K20me2 is a property common to BAH domains present within diverse metazoan ORC1 proteins. Structural studies reveal that the specificity of the BAH domain for H4K20me2 is mediated by a dynamic aromatic dimethyl-lysine-binding cage and multiple intermolecular contacts involving the bound peptide. H4K20me2 is enriched at replication origins, and abrogating ORC1 recognition of H4K20me2 in cells impairs ORC1 occupancy at replication origins, ORC chromatin loading and cell-cycle progression. Mutation of the ORC1 BAH domain has been implicated in the aetiology of Meier-Gorlin syndrome (MGS), a form of primordial dwarfism, and ORC1 depletion in zebrafish results in an MGS-like phenotype. We find that wild-type human ORC1, but not ORC1-H4K20me2-binding mutants, rescues the growth retardation of orc1 morphants. Moreover, zebrafish depleted of H4K20me2 have diminished body size, mirroring the phenotype of orc1 morphants. Together, our results identify the BAH domain as a novel methyl-lysine-binding module, thereby establishing the first direct link between histone methylation and the metazoan DNA replication machinery, and defining a pivotal aetiological role for the canonical H4K20me2 mark, via ORC1, in primordial dwarfism.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature10956
View details for Web of Science ID 000302343400045
View details for PubMedID 22398447
The histone lysine methyltransferase NSD2 (MMSET/WHSC1) is implicated in diverse diseases and commonly overexpressed in multiple myeloma due to a recurrent t(4;14) chromosomal translocation. However, the precise catalytic activity of NSD2 is obscure, preventing progress in understanding how this enzyme influences chromatin biology and myeloma pathogenesis. Here, we show that dimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 36 (H3K36me2) is the principal chromatin-regulatory activity of NSD2. Catalysis of H3K36me2 by NSD2 is sufficient for gene activation. In t(4;14)-positive myeloma cells, the normal genome-wide and gene-specific distribution of H3K36me2 is obliterated, creating a chromatin landscape that selects for a transcription profile favorable for myelomagenesis. Catalytically active NSD2 confers xenograft tumor formation upon t(4;14)-negative cells and promotes oncogenic transformation of primary cells in an H3K36me2-dependent manner. Together, our findings establish H3K36me2 as the primary product generated by NSD2 and demonstrate that genomic disorganization of this canonical chromatin mark by NSD2 initiates oncogenic programming.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2011.08.042
View details for Web of Science ID 000297387800012
View details for PubMedID 22099308
Signaling via the methylation of lysine residues in proteins has been linked to diverse biological and disease processes, yet the catalytic activity and substrate specificity of many human protein lysine methyltransferases (PKMTs) are unknown. We screened over 40 candidate PKMTs and identified SETD6 as a methyltransferase that monomethylated chromatin-associated transcription factor NF-?B subunit RelA at Lys310 (RelAK310me1). SETD6-mediated methylation rendered RelA inert and attenuated RelA-driven transcriptional programs, including inflammatory responses in primary immune cells. RelAK310me1 was recognized by the ankryin repeat of the histone methyltransferase GLP, which under basal conditions promoted a repressed chromatin state at RelA target genes through GLP-mediated methylation of histone H3 Lys9 (H3K9). NF-?B-activation-linked phosphorylation of RelA at Ser311 by protein kinase C-? (PKC-?) blocked the binding of GLP to RelAK310me1 and relieved repression of the target gene. Our findings establish a previously uncharacterized mechanism by which chromatin signaling regulates inflammation programs.
View details for DOI 10.1038/ni.1968
View details for Web of Science ID 000285465100010
View details for PubMedID 21131967
The MLL (mixed-lineage leukemia) proto-oncogene encodes a histone methyltransferase that creates the methylated histone H3K4 epigenetic marks, commonly associated with actively transcribed genes. In addition to its canonical histone methyltransferase SET domain, the MLL protein contains three plant homeodomain (PHD) fingers that are well conserved between species but whose potential roles and requirements for MLL function are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the third PHD domain of MLL (PHD3) binds histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 4 (H3K4me3) with high affinity and specificity and H3K4me2 with 8-fold lower affinity. Biochemical and structural analyses using NMR and fluorescence spectroscopy identified key amino acids essential for the interaction with H3K4me3. Site-directed mutations of the residues involved in recognition of H3K4me3 compromised in vitro H3K4me3 binding but not in vivo localization of full-length MLL to chromatin sites in target promoters of MEIS1 and HOXA genes. Whereas intact PHD3 finger was necessary for MLL occupancy at these promoters, H3K4me3 binding was critical for MLL transcriptional activity. These results demonstrate that MLL occupancy and target gene activation can be functionally separated. Furthermore, these findings reveal that MLL not only "writes" the H3K4me3 mark but also binds the mark, and this binding is required for the transcriptional maintenance functions of MLL.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jmb.2010.05.005
View details for Web of Science ID 000279786900003
View details for PubMedID 20452361
The NSD (nuclear receptor SET domain-containing) family of histone lysine methyltransferases is a critical participant in chromatin integrity as evidenced by the number of human diseases associated with the aberrant expression of its family members. Yet, the specific targets of these enzymes are not clear, with marked discrepancies being reported in the literature. We demonstrate that NSD2 can exhibit disparate target preferences based on the nature of the substrate provided. The NSD2 complex purified from human cells and recombinant NSD2 both exhibit specific targeting of histone H3 lysine 36 (H3K36) when provided with nucleosome substrates, but histone H4 lysine 44 is the primary target in the case of octamer substrates, irrespective of the histones being native or recombinant. This disparity is negated when NSD2 is presented with octamer targets in conjunction with short single- or double-stranded DNA. Although the octamers cannot form nucleosomes, the target is nonetheless nucleosome-specific as is the product, dimethylated H3K36. This study clarifies in part the previous discrepancies reported with respect to NSD targets. We propose that DNA acts as an allosteric effector of NSD2 such that H3K36 becomes the preferred target.
View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M109.034462
View details for Web of Science ID 000272165200059
View details for PubMedID 19808676
Knowledge of protein domains that function as the biological effectors for diverse post-translational modifications of histones is critical for understanding how nuclear and epigenetic programs are established. Indeed, mutations of chromatin effector domains found within several proteins are associated with multiple human pathologies, including cancer and immunodeficiency syndromes. To date, relatively few effector domains have been identified in comparison to the number of modifications present on histone and non-histone proteins. Here we describe the generation and application of human modified peptide microarrays as a platform for high-throughput discovery of chromatin effectors and for epitope-specificity analysis of antibodies commonly utilized in chromatin research. Screening with a library containing a majority of the Royal Family domains present in the human proteome led to the discovery of TDRD7, JMJ2C, and MPP8 as three new modified histone-binding proteins. Thus, we propose that peptide microarray methodologies are a powerful new tool for elucidating molecular interactions at chromatin.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0006789
View details for Web of Science ID 000269335000031
View details for PubMedID 19956676
The ING2 plant homeodomain (PHD) finger is recruited to the nucleosome through specific binding to histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 4 (H3K4me3). Here, we describe backbone and side chain assignments of the ING2 PHD finger, analyze its binding to the unmodified and modified histone and p53 peptides, and map the histone H3 and H3K4me3 binding sites based on chemical shift perturbation analysis.
View details for DOI 10.1002/mrc.2390
View details for Web of Science ID 000264514200011
View details for PubMedID 19184981
Aberrations in chromatin dynamics play a fundamental role in tumorigenesis, yet relatively little is known of the molecular mechanisms linking histone lysine methylation to neoplastic disease. ING4 (Inhibitor of Growth 4) is a native subunit of an HBO1 histone acetyltransferase (HAT) complex and a tumor suppressor protein. Here we show a critical role for specific recognition of histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 4 (H3K4me3) by the ING4 PHD finger in mediating ING4 gene expression and tumor suppressor functions. The interaction between ING4 and H3K4me3 augments HBO1 acetylation activity on H3 tails and drives H3 acetylation at ING4 target promoters. Further, ING4 facilitates apoptosis in response to genotoxic stress and inhibits anchorage-independent cell growth, and these functions depend on ING4 interactions with H3K4me3. Together, our results demonstrate a mechanism for brokering crosstalk between H3K4 methylation and H3 acetylation and reveal a molecular link between chromatin modulation and tumor suppressor mechanisms.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2008.12.016
View details for Web of Science ID 000263204500015
View details for PubMedID 19187765
Aire induces ectopic expression of peripheral tissue antigens (PTAs) in thymic medullary epithelial cells, which promotes immunological tolerance. Beginning with a broad screen of histone peptides, we demonstrate that the mechanism by which this single factor controls the transcription of thousands of genes involves recognition of the amino-terminal tail of histone H3, but not of other histones, by one of Aire's plant homeodomain (PHD) fingers. Certain posttranslational modifications of H3 tails, notably dimethylation or trimethylation at H3K4, abrogated binding by Aire, whereas others were tolerated. Similar PHD finger-H3 tail-binding properties were recently reported for BRAF-histone deacetylase complex 80 and DNA methyltransferase 3L; sequence alignment, molecular modeling, and biochemical analyses showed these factors and Aire to have structure-function relationships in common. In addition, certain PHD1 mutations underlying the polyendocrine disorder autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiases-ectodermaldystrophy compromised Aire recognition of H3. In vitro binding assays demonstrated direct physical interaction between Aire and nucleosomes, which was in part buttressed by its affinity to DNA. In vivo Aire interactions with chromosomal regions depleted of H3K4me3 were dependent on its H3 tail-binding activity, and this binding was necessary but not sufficient for the up-regulation of genes encoding PTAs. Thus, Aire's activity as a histone-binding module mediates the thymic display of PTAs that promotes self-tolerance and prevents organ-specific autoimmunity.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0808470105
View details for Web of Science ID 000260240900044
View details for PubMedID 18840680
Inhibitor of growth 1 (ING1) is implicated in oncogenesis, DNA damage repair, and apoptosis. Mutations within the ING1 gene and altered expression levels of ING1 are found in multiple human cancers. Here, we show that both DNA repair and apoptotic activities of ING1 require the interaction of the C-terminal plant homeodomain (PHD) finger with histone H3 trimethylated at Lys4 (H3K4me3). The ING1 PHD finger recognizes methylated H3K4 but not other histone modifications as revealed by the peptide microarrays. The molecular mechanism of the histone recognition is elucidated based on a 2.1 A-resolution crystal structure of the PHD-H3K4me3 complex. The K4me3 occupies a deep hydrophobic pocket formed by the conserved Y212 and W235 residues that make cation-pi contacts with the trimethylammonium group. Both aromatic residues are essential in the H3K4me3 recognition, as substitution of these residues with Ala disrupts the interaction. Unlike the wild-type ING1, the W235A mutant, overexpressed in the stable clones of melanoma cells or in HT1080 cells, was unable to stimulate DNA repair after UV irradiation or promote DNA-damage-induced apoptosis, indicating that H3K4me3 binding is necessary for these biological functions of ING1. Furthermore, N216S, V218I, and G221V mutations, found in human malignancies, impair the ability of ING1 to associate with H3K4me3 or to induce nucleotide repair and cell death, linking the tumorigenic activity of ING1 with epigenetic regulation. Together, our findings reveal the critical role of the H3K4me3 interaction in mediating cellular responses to genotoxic stresses and offer new insight into the molecular mechanism underlying the tumor suppressive activity of ING1.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.04.061
View details for Web of Science ID 000257630000004
View details for PubMedID 18533182
Nuclear processes such as transcription, DNA replication and recombination are dynamically regulated by chromatin structure. Eukaryotic transcription is known to be regulated by chromatin-associated proteins containing conserved protein domains that specifically recognize distinct covalent post-translational modifications on histones. However, it has been unclear whether similar mechanisms are involved in mammalian DNA recombination. Here we show that RAG2--an essential component of the RAG1/2 V(D)J recombinase, which mediates antigen-receptor gene assembly--contains a plant homeodomain (PHD) finger that specifically recognizes histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 4 (H3K4me3). The high-resolution crystal structure of the mouse RAG2 PHD finger bound to H3K4me3 reveals the molecular basis of H3K4me3-recognition by RAG2. Mutations that abrogate RAG2's recognition of H3K4me3 severely impair V(D)J recombination in vivo. Reducing the level of H3K4me3 similarly leads to a decrease in V(D)J recombination in vivo. Notably, a conserved tryptophan residue (W453) that constitutes a key structural component of the K4me3-binding surface and is essential for RAG2's recognition of H3K4me3 is mutated in patients with immunodeficiency syndromes. Together, our results identify a new function for histone methylation in mammalian DNA recombination. Furthermore, our results provide the first evidence indicating that disrupting the read-out of histone modifications can cause an inherited human disease.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature06431
View details for Web of Science ID 000251579900092
View details for PubMedID 18033247
Recombination activating gene (RAG) 1 and RAG2 together catalyze V(D)J gene rearrangement in lymphocytes as the first step in the assembly and maturation of antigen receptors. RAG2 contains a plant homeodomain (PHD) near its C terminus (RAG2-PHD) that recognizes histone H3 methylated at lysine 4 (H3K4me) and influences V(D)J recombination. We report here crystal structures of RAG2-PHD alone and complexed with five modified H3 peptides. Two aspects of RAG2-PHD are unique. First, in the absence of the modified peptide, a peptide N-terminal to RAG2-PHD occupies the substrate-binding site, which may reflect an autoregulatory mechanism. Second, in contrast to other H3K4me3-binding PHD domains, RAG2-PHD substitutes a carboxylate that interacts with arginine 2 (R2) with a Tyr, resulting in binding to H3K4me3 that is enhanced rather than inhibited by dimethylation of R2. Five residues involved in histone H3 recognition were found mutated in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) patients. Disruption of the RAG2-PHD structure appears to lead to the absence of T and B lymphocytes, whereas failure to bind H3K4me3 is linked to Omenn Syndrome. This work provides a molecular basis for chromatin-dependent gene recombination and presents a single protein domain that simultaneously recognizes two distinct histone modifications, revealing added complexity in the read-out of combinatorial histone modifications.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0709170104
View details for Web of Science ID 000251498700024
View details for PubMedID 18025461
The PHD finger motif is a signature chromatin-associated motif that is found throughout eukaryotic proteomes. Here we have determined the histone methyl-lysine binding activity of the PHD fingers present within the Saccharomyces cerevisiae proteome. We provide evidence on the genomic scale that PHD fingers constitute a general class of effector modules for histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 4 (H3K4me3) and histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 36 (H3K36me3). Structural modeling of PHD fingers demonstrates a conserved mechanism for recognizing the trimethyl moiety and provides insight into the molecular basis of affinity for the different methyl-histone ligands. Together, our study suggests that a common function for PHD fingers is to transduce methyl-lysine events and sheds light on how a single histone modification can be linked to multiple biological outcomes.
View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.C600286200
View details for Web of Science ID 000243593200036
View details for PubMedID 17142463