Developmental regulation of Eed complex composition governs a switch in global histone modification in brain

J Biol Chem. 2007 Mar 30;282(13):9962-9972. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M608722200. Epub 2007 Jan 26.


Originally discovered as epigenetic regulators of developmental gene expression, the Polycomb (PcG) and trithorax (trxG) group of proteins form distinct nuclear complexes governing post-translational modification of histone tails. This study identified a novel, developmentally regulated interface between Eed and Mll, pivotal constituents of PcG and trxG pathways, respectively, in mouse brain. Although the PcG proteins Eed and EzH2 (Enhancer of Zeste protein-2) engaged in a common complex during neurodevelopment, Eed associated with the trxG protein Mll upon brain maturation. Comprehensive analysis of multiple histone modifications revealed differential substrate specificity of the novel Eed-Mll complex in adult brain compared with the developmental Eed-EzH2 complex. Newborn brain from eed heterozygotes and eed;Mll double heterozygotes exhibited decreased trimethylation at lysine 27 of histone H3, as well as hyperacetylation of histone H4. In contrast, adult hippocampus from Mll heterozygotes was remarkable for decreased acetylation of histone H4, which restored to wild-type levels in eed;Mll double heterozygotes. A physiological role for the Eed-Mll complex in adult brain was evident from complementary defects in synaptic plasticity in eed and Mll mutant hippocampi. These results support the notion that developmental regulation of complex composition bestows the predominant Eed complex with the chromatin remodeling activity conducive for gene regulation during neurodevelopment and adult brain function. Thus, this study suggests dynamic regulation of chromatin complex composition as a molecular mechanism to co-opt constituents of developmental pathways into the regulation of neuronal memory formation in adult brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein / metabolism
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*


  • Eed protein, mouse
  • Histones
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Kmt2a protein, mouse
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2