PR-Set7/Set8/KMT5a is a chromatin-modifying enzyme that specifically monomethylates lysine 20 of histone H4 (H4K20me1). In this study we attempted to identify PR-Set7-interacting proteins reasoning that these proteins would provide important insights into the role of PR-Set7 in transcriptional regulation. Using an unbiased yeast two-hybrid approach, we discovered that PR-Set7 interacts with the UBC9 E2 SUMO conjugating enzyme. This interaction was confirmed in human cells and we demonstrated that PR-Set7 was preferentially modified with SUMO1 in vivo. Further in vitro studies revealed that UBC9 directly binds PR-Set7 proximal to the catalytic SET domain. Two putative SUMO consensus sites were identified in this region and both were capable of being SUMOylated in vitro. The absence of either or both SUMO sites did not perturb nuclear localization of PR-Set7. By employing whole genome expression arrays, we identified a panel of genes whose expression was significantly altered in the absence of PR-Set7. The vast majority of these genes displayed increased expression strongly suggesting that PR-Set7 predominantly functions as a transcriptional repressor. Importantly, the reduction of UBC9 resulted in the consistent derepression of several of these newly identified genes regulated by PR-Set7. Our findings indicate that direct interaction with UBC9 facilitates the repressive effects of PR-Set7 at specific target genes, most likely by SUMOylating PR-Set7.
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