Methylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9) is a hallmark of heterochromatin that plays crucial roles in gene silencing, genome stability, and chromosome segregation. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Clr4 mediates both di- and tri-methylation of H3K9. Although H3K9 methylation has been intensely studied in mitotic cells, its role during sexual differentiation remains unclear. Here, we map H3K9 methylation genome-wide during meiosis and show that constitutive heterochromatin temporarily loses H3K9me2 and becomes H3K9me3 when cells commit to meiosis. Cells lacking the ability to tri-methylate H3K9 exhibit meiotic chromosome segregation defects. Finally, the H3K9 methylation switch is accompanied by differential phosphorylation of Clr4 by the cyclin-dependent kinase Cdk1. Our results suggest that a conserved master regulator of the cell cycle controls the specificity of an H3K9 methyltransferase to prevent ectopic H3K9 methylation and to ensure faithful gametogenesis.
Keywords: chromosome segregation; fission yeast; histone methylation; meiosis; phosphorylation.
© 2022 Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.