In fission yeast, the ste11 gene encodes the master regulator initiating the switch from vegetative growth to gametogenesis. In a previous paper, we showed that the methylation of H3K4 and consequent promoter nucleosome deacetylation repress ste11 induction and cell differentiation (Materne et al., 2015) but the regulatory steps remain poorly understood. Here we report a genetic screen that highlighted H2B deubiquitylation and the RSC remodeling complex as activators of ste11 expression. Mechanistic analyses revealed more complex, opposite roles of H2Bubi at the promoter where it represses expression, and over the transcribed region where it sustains it. By promoting H3K4 methylation at the promoter, H2Bubi initiates the deacetylation process, which decreases chromatin remodeling by RSC. Upon induction, this process is reversed and efficient NDR (nucleosome depleted region) formation leads to high expression. Therefore, H2Bubi represses gametogenesis by opposing the recruitment of RSC at the promoter of the master regulator ste11 gene.
Keywords: Chromatin; Fission yeast; S. pombe; Transcription; chromosomes; genes.