The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is a powerful genetic model system for uncovering fundamental principles of heterochromatin assembly and epigenetic inheritance of chromatin states. Heterochromatin defined by histone H3 lysine 9 methylation and HP1 proteins coats large chromosomal domains at centromeres, telomeres, and the mating-type (mat) locus. Although genetic and biochemical studies have provided valuable insights into heterochromatin assembly, many key mechanistic details remain unclear. Here, we use a sensitized reporter system at the mat locus to screen for factors affecting heterochromatic silencing. In addition to known components of heterochromatin assembly pathways, our screen identified eight new factors including the cohesin-associated protein Pds5. We find that Pds5 enriched throughout heterochromatin domains is required for proper maintenance of heterochromatin. This function of Pds5 requires its associated Eso1 acetyltransferase, which is implicated in the acetylation of cohesin. Indeed, introducing an acetylation-mimicking mutation in a cohesin subunit suppresses defects in heterochromatin assembly in pds5∆ and eso1∆ cells. Our results show that in cells lacking Pds5, cohesin interferes with heterochromatin assembly. Supporting this, eliminating cohesin from the mat locus in the pds5∆ mutant restores both heterochromatin assembly and gene silencing. These analyses highlight an unexpected requirement for Pds5 in ensuring proper coordination between cohesin and heterochromatin factors to effectively maintain gene silencing.
Keywords: Pds5; cohesin acetylation; fission yeast; heterochromatin; mat locus.
Copyright © 2019 by the Genetics Society of America.