Vigilin protein Vgl1 is required for heterochromatin-mediated gene silencing in Schizosaccharomyces pombe

J Biol Chem. 2019 Nov 29;294(48):18029-18040. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.009262. Epub 2019 Sep 25.


Heterochromatin is a conserved feature of eukaryotic genomes and regulates various cellular processes, including gene silencing, chromosome segregation, and maintenance of genome stability. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, heterochromatin formation involves methylation of lysine 9 in histone H3 (H3K9), which recruits Swi6/HP1 proteins to heterochromatic loci. The Swi6/HP1-H3K9me3 chromatin complex lies at the center of heterochromatic macromolecular assemblies and mediates many functions of heterochromatin by recruiting a diverse set of regulators. However, additional factors may be required for proper heterochromatin organization, but they are not fully known. Here, using several molecular and biochemical approaches, we report that Vgl1, a member of a large family of multiple KH-domain proteins, collectively known as vigilins, is indispensable for the heterochromatin-mediated gene silencing in S. pombe ChIP analysis revealed that Vgl1 binds to pericentromeric heterochromatin in an RNA-dependent manner and that Vgl1 deletion leads to loss of H3K9 methylation and Swi6 recruitment to centromeric and telomeric heterochromatic loci. Furthermore, we show that Vgl1 interacts with the H3K9 methyltransferase, Clr4, and that loss of Vgl1 impairs Clr4 recruitment to heterochromatic regions of the genome. These findings uncover a novel role for Vgl1 as a key regulator in heterochromatin-mediated gene silencing in S. pombe.

Keywords: chromatin; chromatin modification; gene silencing; heterochromatin; histone methylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Genome, Fungal
  • Heterochromatin / genetics
  • Heterochromatin / metabolism*
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Schizosaccharomyces / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces / metabolism*
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / metabolism*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Heterochromatin
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • Vgl1 protein, S pombe
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • clr4 protein, S pombe