The polycomb group protein SUZ12 regulates histone H3 lysine 9 methylation and HP1 alpha distribution

Chromosome Res. 2007;15(3):299-314. doi: 10.1007/s10577-007-1126-1. Epub 2007 May 10.


Regulation of histone methylation is critical for proper gene expression and chromosome function. Suppressor of Zeste 12 (SUZ12) is a requisite member of the EED/EZH2 histone methyltransferase complexes, and is required for full activity of these complexes in vitro. In mammals and flies, SUZ12/Su(z)12 is necessary for trimethylation of histone H3 on lysine 27 (H3K27me3) on facultative heterochromatin. However, Su(z)12 is unique among Polycomb Group Proteins in that Su(z)12 mutant flies exhibit gross defects in position effect variegation, suggesting a role for Su(z)12 in constitutive heterochromatin formation. We investigated the role of Suz12 in constitutive heterochromatin and discovered that Suz12 is required for histone H3 lysine 9 tri-methylation (H3K9me3) in differentiated but not undifferentiated mouse embryonic stem cells. Knockdown of SUZ12 in human cells caused a reduction in H3K27me3 and H3K9me3, and altered the distribution of HP1 alpha. In contrast, EZH2 knockdown caused loss of H3K27me3 but not H3K9me3, indicating that SUZ12 regulates H3-K9 methylation in an EZH2-independent fashion. This work uncovers a role for SUZ12 in H3-K9 methylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein
  • Heterochromatin / metabolism
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2
  • Proteins / physiology
  • Repressor Proteins / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Heterochromatin
  • Histones
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SUZ12 protein, human
  • Suz12 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors
  • heterochromatin-specific nonhistone chromosomal protein HP-1
  • EZH2 protein, human
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein
  • Ezh2 protein, mouse
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2
  • Lysine