In animal cells the nuclear lamina, which consists of lamins and lamin-associated proteins, serves several functions: it provides a structural scaffold for the nuclear envelope and tethers proteins and heterochromatin to the nuclear periphery. In yeast, proteins and large heterochromatic domains including telomeres are also peripherally localized, but there is no evidence that yeast have lamins or a fibrous nuclear envelope scaffold. Nonetheless, we found that the Lem2 and Man1 proteins of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, evolutionarily distant relatives of the Lap2/Emerin/Man1 (LEM) sub-family of animal cell lamin-associated proteins, perform fundamental functions of the animal cell lamina. These integral inner nuclear membrane localized proteins, with nuclear localized DNA binding Helix-Extension-Helix (HEH) domains, impact nuclear envelope structure and integrity, are essential for the enrichment of telomeres at the nuclear periphery and by means of their HEH domains anchor chromatin, most likely transcriptionally repressed heterochromatin, to the nuclear periphery. These data indicate that the core functions of the nuclear lamina are conserved between fungi and animal cells and can be performed in fission yeast, without lamins or other intermediate filament proteins.
Keywords: HEH domain; LEM domain; chromosome organization; fission yeast; nuclear lamina; nuclear periphery; telomere anchoring.