The H19 gene controls the expression of several genes within the Imprinted Gene Network (IGN), involved in growth control of the embryo. However, the underlying mechanisms of this control remain elusive. Here, researchers from the CNRS, France identified the methyl-CpG–binding domain protein 1 MBD1 as a physical and functional partner of the H19 long noncoding RNA (lncRNA). The H19 lncRNA–MBD1 complex is required for the control of five genes of the IGN. For three of these genes—Igf2 (insulin-like growth factor 2), Slc38a4 (solute carrier family 38 member 4), and Peg1 (paternally expressed gene 1)—both MBD1 and H3K9me3 binding were detected on their differentially methylated regions. The H19 lncRNA–MBD1 complex, through its interaction with histone lysine methyltransferases, therefore acts by bringing repressive histone marks on the differentially methylated regions of these three direct targets of the H19 gene. This data suggest that, besides the differential DNA methylation found on the differentially methylated regions of imprinted genes, an additional fine tuning of the expressed allele is achieved by a modulation of the H3K9me3 marks, mediated by the association of the H19 lncRNA with chromatin-modifying complexes, such as MBD1. This results in a precise control of the level of expression of growth factors in the embryo.
- Monnier P, Martinet C, Pontis J, Stancheva I, Ait-Si-Ali S, Dandolo L. (2013) H19 lncRNA controls gene expression of the Imprinted Gene Network by recruiting MBD1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]