The CAG repeat expansion in the Huntington's disease gene HTT extends a polyglutamine tract in mutant huntingtin that enhances its ability to facilitate polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). To gain insight into this dominant gain of function, we mapped histone modifications genome-wide across an isogenic panel of mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) and neuronal progenitor cell (NPC) lines, comparing the effects of Htt null and different size Htt CAG mutations. We found that Htt is required in ESC for the proper deposition of histone H3K27me3 at a subset of 'bivalent' loci but in NPC it is needed at 'bivalent' loci for both the proper maintenance and the appropriate removal of this mark. In contrast, Htt CAG size, though changing histone H3K27me3, is prominently associated with altered histone H3K4me3 at 'active' loci. The sets of ESC and NPC genes with altered histone marks delineated by the lack of huntingtin or the presence of mutant huntingtin, though distinct, are enriched in similar pathways with apoptosis specifically highlighted for the CAG mutation. Thus, the manner by which huntingtin function facilitates PRC2 may afford mutant huntingtin with multiple opportunities to impinge upon the broader machinery that orchestrates developmentally appropriate chromatin status.
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