Almost all known histone modifications correlate with activating or
repressive functions dependent on which histone variant or amino
acid residue is modified (Allis et al., 2007). However, these histone
modifications do not occur in isolation but rather in a combinatorial
manner,leading to both synergistic and antagonistic pathways (Allis
et al., 2007) in which the same mark may participate (Berger, 2007).
This has made it difficult to establish a defined causative biological
effect of the addition or removal of a single mark in vivo. In
Drosophila it has recently been demonstrated that histone H3S10
phosphorylation by the JIL-1 kinase is important for maintaining
chromatin structure and gene expression (Wang et al., 2001; Ebert
et al., 2004; Deng et al., 2005; Zhang et al., 2006; Bao et al., 2007).
The JIL-1 histone H3S10 tandem kinase localizes specifically to
euchromatic interband regions of polytene chromosomes (Jin et al.,
1999), and analysis of a JIL-1 null allele, JIL-1z2, has shown that
JIL-1is essential for viability (Wang et al., 2001; Zhang et al., 2003).
Furthermore, mutational analysis has demonstrated that a reduction
in JIL-1 kinase activity leads to a global disruption of chromatin
structure and that maintaining histone H3S10 phosphorylation levels
at the euchromatic regions is necessary to counteract
heterochromatization and gene silencing (Wang et al., 2001; Ebert
et al., 2004; Zhang et al., 2006; Bao et al., 2007). However, we were
interested in determining whether phosphorylation of the histone
H3S10 residue by the JIL-1 kinase in addition may serve as an
epigenetic mark that can play a causative role in establishing
euchromatic chromatin regions. To test this hypothesis we applied a
LacI-tethering system that has previously been used to study the
effects of transcriptional activators on large-scale chromatin
structure in mammalian cells (Tumbar et al., 1999; Carpenter et al.,
2005) as well as the effects of ectopic HP1 on chromatin structure
and gene silencing in Drosophila (Li et al., 2003; Danzer and
Wallrath, 2004). Using this approach we show that JIL-1 mediated
ectopic histone H3S10 phosphorylation is sufficient to induce a
change in higher-order chromatin structure from a condensed
heterochromatin-like state to a more open euchromatic state during
MATERIALS AND METHODS
LacI fusion constructs
The DNA-binding domain of the lacI repressor from Escherichia coli was
fused to the NH2-terminus of the full-length JIL-1cDNA (Wang et al., 2001)
inserted in the pUAST vector. A ‘kinase dead’ lacI-JIL-1 was generated
using the TransformerTMSite-Directed Mutagenesis kit (Clon-Tech) to
introduce K293A and K652A substitutions in the ATP-binding loops for
each kinase domain. The fidelity of the constructs was verified by
sequencing at the Iowa State University Sequencing Facility.
Drosophila melanogaster stocks
Fly stocks were maintained according to standard protocols (Roberts, 1998).
Lac operator insertion lines and the GFP-lacI fusion line are described in Li
et al. (Li et al., 2003) and Danzer and Wallrath (Danzer and Wallrath, 2004).
LacI-JIL-1 and LacI-JIL-1 kinase dead pUAST lines were generated by
standard P-element transformation (BestGene, Inc.) and driven using the
tub-GAL4 (P[tub>CD2>GAL4]) or Sgs3-GAL4 drivers (obtained from the
Bloomington Stock Center) introduced by standard genetic crosses.
Polytene chromosome squash preparations were performed as in Kelley et
al. (Kelley et al., 1999) using either 1 or 5 minute fixation protocols and
labeled with antibody as described in Jin et al. (Jin et al., 1999). Primary
antibodies include chicken anti-GFP (Aves Labs, Tigard, OR), rabbit anti-
H3S10ph (Epitomics), mouse anti-Pol II0ser2(Covance), mouse anti-Pol
II0ser5(Covance), rabbit anti-H4K16ac (Upstate Biotechnology), rabbit anti-
BRM (gift from Dr J. Tamkun), mouse anti-lacI (Upstate Biotechnology),
rabbit anti-JIL-1 (Jin et al., 1999), chicken anti-JIL-1 (Jin et al., 2000) and
anti-JIL-1 mAb 5C9 (Jin et al., 2000). DNA was visualized by staining with
Hoechst 33258 or with propidium iodide (Molecular Probes) in PBS. The
final preparations were mounted in 90% glycerol containing 0.5% n-propyl
gallate and examined using epifluorescence optics (40?Plan-Neofluar 1.30
Ectopic histone H3S10 phosphorylation causes chromatin
structure remodeling in Drosophila
Huai Deng1, Xiaomin Bao1, Weili Cai1, Melissa J. Blacketer1, Andrew S. Belmont2, Jack Girton1,
Jørgen Johansen1and Kristen M. Johansen1,*
Histones are subject to numerous post-translational modifications that correlate with the state of higher-order chromatin structure
and gene expression. However, it is not clear whether changes in these epigenetic marks are causative regulatory factors in
chromatin structure changes or whether they play a mainly reinforcing or maintenance role. In Drosophila phosphorylation of
histone H3S10 in euchromatic chromatin regions by the JIL-1 tandem kinase has been implicated in counteracting
heterochromatization and gene silencing. Here we show, using a LacI-tethering system, that JIL-1 mediated ectopic histone H3S10
phosphorylation is sufficient to induce a change in higher-order chromatin structure from a condensed heterochromatin-like state
to a more open euchromatic state. This effect was absent when a ‘kinase dead’ LacI-JIL-1 construct without histone H3S10
phosphorylation activity was expressed. Instead, the ‘kinase dead’ construct had a dominant-negative effect, leading to a disruption
of chromatin structure that was associated with a global repression of histone H3S10 phosphorylation levels. These findings provide
direct evidence that the epigenetic histone tail modification of H3S10 phosphorylation at interphase can function as a causative
regulator of higher-order chromatin structure in Drosophila in vivo.
KEY WORDS: Histone H3S10 phosphorylation, Chromatin structure remodeling, JIL-1 kinase, Drosophila
Development 135, 699-705 (2008) doi:10.1242/dev.015362
1Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology, Iowa State
University, Ames, IA 50011, USA. 2Department of Cell and Structural Biology,
University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
*Author for correspondence (e-mail: email@example.com)
Accepted 4 December 2007
NA) on a Zeiss Axioskop microscope. Images were captured and digitized
using a Spot CCD camera (Diagnostic Instruments), imported into
PhotoShop, and pseudocolored, image-processed and merged.
Immunoblot analysis was performed as described by Wang et al. (Wang et
al., 2001) using extracts from third-instar salivary glands of the specified
genotype. For the quantification of immunolabeling, digital images of
exposures of immunoblots on blue X-ray film (Phenix) were analyzed using
the ImageJ software as previously described (Zhang et al., 2006).
Within the eukaryotic nucleus, genomic DNA is organized into
distinct chromosomal domains consisting of condensed, silent
transcriptionally active chromatin (Khorasanizadeh, 2004). A clear
example of this is found within the band-interband regions observed
interspersed with regions of decondensed,
in Drosophila larval polytene chromosomes (Ananiev and Barsky,
1985; Zhimulev et al., 2004), where gene-active interband regions
are made up of parallel 10 nm nucleosome fibrils loosely aligned,
whereas in the transcriptionally repressed banded regions the
nucleosome fibrils are folded into 30 nm chromosome fibrils that are
further compacted into dense higher-order chromatin structures
(Ananiev and Barsky, 1985; Zhimulev et al., 2004). The two states
of chromatin can be readily distinguished in polytene squash
preparations by labeling with the fluorescent DNA dyes Hoechst
33258 or propidium iodide, which bind stoichiometrically to DNA
(Haugland, 2002). In order to determine whether ectopic histone
H3S10 phosphorylation would be sufficient to induce a change in
higher-order chromatin structure and turn a condensed banded
chromatin region into an interband region with a more open
euchromatic chromatin structure,we applied a LacI tethering system
(Tumbar et al., 1999; Li et al., 2003; Danzer and Wallrath, 2004;
Carpenter et al., 2005). The tethering system has two components:
a reporter transgene containing 256 repetitive binding sites (lacO
repeats) for the lac repressor DNA-binding domain (LacI) and a
transgene expressing a LacI domain fused to the protein of interest
under UAS-GAL4promoter control. We generated expression stocks
containing two transgenes, one encoding the LacI-binding domain
fused to full-length JIL-1, and one encoding a ‘kinase dead’version
of JIL-1 in which the crucial lysine for catalytic activity (Bjørbæk et
al., 1995) in each of the two kinase domains (K293and K652,
respectively) was changed to alanine (Fig. 1). In addition, an
expression construct containing a transgene encoding green
fluorescent protein (GFP) was used as a control (Li et al., 2003).
Development 135 (4)
Fig. 1. Diagrams of the LacI-fusion constructs used for tethering
to lacO repeat transgenic insertion lines. The JIL-1 histone H3S10
kinase is a 1207 amino acid protein with two kinase domains, KDI and
Fig. 2. Ectopic tethering of lacI-JIL-1 fusion
protein to a polytene band induces histone
H3S10 phosphorylation and chromatin
decondensation. (A-C) Triple labelings of
polytene squash preparations from third instar
Drosophila larvae homozygous for the lacO
repeat line P11.3, which is inserted into the
middle of a polytene band in region 96C1-2.
GFP-LacI was tethered to the lacO repeats in A
and LacI-JIL-1 in B,C. GFP-, LacI- and JIL-1-
antibody labeling is shown in green, H3S10ph-
antibody labeling in red and Hoechst 33258
labeling of DNA in blue or gray. The white
arrows indicate the lacO repeat insertion site.
The polytene chromosomes from the three
preparations are aligned to show the ‘split’ in
the polytene bands, reflecting decondensation
of the chromatin when lacI-JIL-1 fusion protein
is tethered to the band, in contrast to its wild-
type morphology, when GFP-LacI is tethered
and there is no ectopic upregulation of histone
H3S10 phosphorylation. Note: the endogenous
JIL-1 and H3S10ph antibody labeling is too
weak relative to the LacI-JIL-1 signal and the
induced hyperphosphorylation of H3S10 to be
clearly visible at this exposure level. (D) Without
a GAL4-driver line there is no LacI expression or
changes to the band/interband structure.
Double labelings with LacI antibody (in green)
and Hoechst 33258 (in blue or gray) of
polytene squash preparations from third instar
larvae homozygous for the lacO repeat line
P11.3 and containing a LacI-JIL-1 transgene but
without a GAL-4 driver. Arrows indicate the
approximate lacO repeat insertion sites.
Ectopic tethering of LacI-JIL-1 induces histone
H3S10 phosphorylation and chromatin
We first analyzed the effect of tethering JIL-1 using line P11.3 and
a tub-Gal4 driver for LacI fusion protein expression. The lacO-
repeat-containing P-element in P11.3 is inserted into the middle of
a polytene band in region 96C1-2 (Li et al., 2003), as verified by
PCR analysis (Li et al., 2003) as well as by light and electron
microscopy (Novikof et al., 2007). When LacI-GFP was tethered as
detected by GFP-antibody (Fig. 2A) condensed morphology of the
band in polytene squash preparations from third instar larval salivary
glands remained without any obvious subdivisions as labeled by
Hoechst 33258. However, when LacI-JIL-1 was tethered to this
location as detected by either LacI (Fig. 2B) or JIL-1 antibody (Fig.
2C), the chromatin attained an interband morphology and the band
appeared‘split in two’,reflecting a decondensation of the chromatin.
This phenotype was robust and found in at least 75% of the
chromosomes examined from more than 30 independent squash
preparations, and was not present in the absence of tub-GAL4
induction (Fig. 2D). Furthermore, the tethering of the LacI-JIL-1
hyperphosphorylation of the histone H3S10 residue,
demonstrated by double labeling with H3S10ph antibody. This is in
contrast to the tethering of LacI-GFP,which did not result in ectopic
or upregulated H3S10 phosphorylation (Fig. 2A). Thus, these
experiments strongly suggest that histone H3S10 phosphorylation
by the JIL-1 kinase is sufficient to promote striking changes in
chromosomal packaging into a more open euchromatic state in an
otherwise condensed banded chromatin region that is normally
without histone H3S10 phosphorylation.
To verify that these results were not an artifact of the polytene
squash method or limited to the P11.3 lacO insertion line, we
examined heterozygous preparations of two other insertion lines,
P19.9 and 4D5, in addition to P11.3. The lacO repeat line P19.9 is
inserted into a band-interband junction in polytene region 63C5 (Li
et al., 2003),whereas line 4D5 is inserted into an interband at region
4D5 (Danzer and Wallrath, 2004). In the heterozygous condition
only one of the paired chromatids of the polytene chromosomes will
carry the lacOrepeats,with the other chromatid being wild type. As
illustrated in Fig. 3, when LacI-JIL-1 was targeted to such
protein was clearly associated with distinct
heterozygous polytene chromosome preparations morphological
changes and chromatin decondensation predominantly occurred in
the chromatid where LacI-JIL-1 was tethered. In the case of the
interband and the band-interband junction insertions, the increased
accumulation of LacI-JIL-1 at the tethering site nucleated spreading
of high levels of LacI-JIL-1 and histone H3S10 phosphorylation to
surrounding chromosome regions, in some cases leading to
chromatin decondensation of adjacent bands (Fig. 3B-D). Such
spreading was also observed in P11.3/+ preparations; however, from
this insertion site the spreading was often discontinuous, resulting
in small ectopic patches of upregulated LacI-JIL-1 (Fig. 3A). In
some preparations the two paired chromatids of the polytene
chromosomes were slightly separated at the insertion site, making
the LacI-JIL-1-induced changes in chromatin structure especially
evident (Fig. 3C,D). This separation may be due to alterations in
chromatid alignment caused by the changes in chromatin structure
in only one of the chromatids.
Tethering of LacI-JIL-1 ‘kinase dead’ to lacO repeat
insertion sites has a dominant-negative effect
To verify that the observed chromatin structure changes depended
on JIL-1 kinase-mediated histone H3S10 phosphorylation and not
on the tethering of the LacI-JIL-1 construct itself, we examined the
effects of tethering a LacI-JIL-1 ‘kinase dead’construct (LacI-JIL-
1-kd). When this construct was expressed in the lacO repeat line
P11.3 it accumulated at higher concentrations in the target area (Fig.
4A); however, instead of opening up the compacted chromatin,as in
the case when wild-type LacI-JIL-1 was targeted, it induced severe
chromatin structure perturbations as well as numerous ectopic
contacts between non-homologous chromatin regions (Fig. 4B,C).
This phenotype was observed at every target site examined in more
than 50 chromosome squash preparations. As illustrated in Fig. 4B,
the accumulation of LacI-JIL-1-kd was not associated with any
detectable upregulation of histone H3S10 phosphorylation.
Furthermore, immunoblot analysis of protein extracts from third
instar larval salivary glands (Fig. 4D) showed that endogenous JIL-
1 (0.70±0.13 of wild-type levels, n=6), as well as histone H3S10
phosphorylation levels (0.24±0.18 of wild-type levels, n=8), were
reduced when LacI-JIL-1-kd was expressed. These results suggest
that expression of LacI-JIL-1-kd had a dominant-negative effect and
Chromatin structure remodeling
Fig. 3. Tethering of LacI-JIL-1 to heterozygous lacO
repeat insertion lines. (A-C) Polytene squash preparations
double labeled with JIL-1 antibody (green) and either Hoechst
33258 or propidium iodide (red or gray). Heterozygous
preparations for the band insertion line P11.3 (A), the band-
interband insertion line P19.9 (B) and the interband insertion
line 4D5 (C) are shown. (D) Heterozygous preparation for the
interband insertion line 4D5 triple labeled with LacI antibody
in green, H3S10ph antibody in red and with Hoechst 33258
labeling of DNA in blue or gray. Arrowheads in B,C point to
bands of compacted chromatin that are decondensed on the
polytene chromosome half where LacI-JIL-1 was targeted. A
tub-GAL4 driver was used in A-D.
that it reduced global histone H3S10 phosphorylation levels by
displacing native JIL-1 from the normal binding sites of JIL-1. That
LacI-JIL-1-kd localized to euchromatic interband regions is
illustrated by LacI antibody labeling in Fig. 4A. Furthermore, Fig.
4A shows that this localization often led to chromatin disruption and
ectopic chromatin associations at additional chromosome sites to
that of the lacO repeat insertion site. The chromatin structure
disruption caused by LacI-JIL-1-kd recruitment in homozygous
insertion lines was too extensive to allow for the determination of
the exact location of the target site (Fig. 4B). However, in some
cases remnants of the polytene band-interband organization was
sometimes still discernible, as shown in Fig. 4C, which further
illustrates that the ectopic chromatin connections between non-
homologous chromatin regions near the target sites were associated
with high levels of LacI-JIL-1-kd.
Chromatin remodeling induced by Lac-JIL-1
tethering is not due to a stage-specific
The tub-GAL4 driver is active throughout salivary gland polytene
chromosome formation. Therefore, in order to test whether LacI-
JIL-1-induced histone H3S10 phosphorylation can also effect
changes after polytene chromosome band/interband structure has
been well established at second and early third instar larval stages
(Ananiev and Barsky, 1985; Zhimulev et al., 2004), we performed
tethering experiments with the salivary-gland-specific Sgs3-GAL4
driver line. The onset of expression of this driver is not before the
mid-third instar larval transition midway through the third larval
instar (Cherbas et al., 2003). As illustrated in Fig. 5A,B we observed
similar changes in chromatin structure to those induced using the
tub-GAL4 driver line.
Development 135 (4)
Fig. 4. Tethering of LacI-JIL-1 ‘kinase dead’ to lacO repeat insertion lines. (A) Double labeling of a polytene squash preparation homozygous
for the lacO repeat line P11.3 with LacI antibody (in green) and with Hoechst 33258 (in blue and gray). The arrow indicates chromatin structure
perturbations at the insersion site. Arrowheads indicate chromatin structure perturbations and ectopic contacts at other sites. (B) Triple labeling of a
polytene squash preparation homozygous for the lacO repeat line P11.3 with LacI antibody (in green), with H3S10ph antibody (in red) and with
Hoechst 33258 (in blue and gray). The upper panel shows LacI-JIL-1 tethering compared to LacI-JIL-1 kinase dead tethering in the lower panel.
Arrows indicate the approximate lacO repeat insertion sites. (C) Triple labeling of a polytene squash preparation heterozygous for the lacO repeat
lines P11.3 and 4D5 with LacI antibody (in green), with JIL-1 antibody (in red) and with Hoechst 33258 (in blue and gray). Arrows indicate the
approximate lacO repeat insertion sites. (D) Levels of H3S10 phosphorylation were reduced when LacI-JIL-1 kinase dead was expressed, compared
with wild-type levels and when LacI-JIL-1 was expressed in homozygous lacO P11.3 lines. Immunoblots were performed on extracts from third instar
larval salivary glands and labeled with JIL-1, H3S10ph, histone H3 and tubulin antibodies. The upper arrow indicates LacI-JIL-1 or LacI-JIL-1-kd,
whereas the lower arrow shows the location of wild-type JIL-1.
The LacI-JIL-1 tethering induced chromatin
changes are not associated with enhanced
An important issue is whether the observed changes in chromatin
structure are associated with transcriptional activation or whether
the changes occur independently of transcription. We therefore
labeled the LacI-JIL-1 tethering site in preparations homozygous for
the lacO repeat line P11.3 with antibody to the elongating form of
RNA polymerase II (Pol II0ser2), which is phosphorylated at serine
2 in the COOH-terminal domain (Weeks et al., 1993; Boehm et al.,
2003). As illustrated in Fig. 6A,there is no upregulation of Pol II0ser2
labeling at the tethering site and the labeling is several fold less than
at adjacent transcriptionally active regions,as indicated by the robust
levels of Pol II0ser2at these sites. We also labeled the LacI-JIL-1
tethering site with antibody to the paused form of RNA polymerase
II (Pol II0ser5), which is phosphorylated at serine 5 in the COOH-
terminal domain (Weeks et al., 1993; Boehm et al., 2003). As shown
in Fig. 6B, the labeling was absent or at very low levels at the
tethering site compared with adjacent interband regions. These data
indicate that the chromatin structure changes are likely to be
independent of enhanced transcriptional activity.
JIL-1 is associated with the male specific lethal (MSL) dosage
compensation complex (Jin et al., 1999; Jin et al., 2000) and
therefore potentially could recruit dosage compensation proteins,
leading to local acetylation of histone H4K16. However, as
illustrated in Fig. 6C, tethering of LacI-JIL-1 does not lead to
enhanced histone H4K16 acetylation at the lacO tethering site.
Moreover, the chromatin structure changes resulting from LacI-
JIL-1 tethering occur in both male and females, suggesting that it
is highly unlikely that the MSL dosage compensation complex
contributes to these changes. Another candidate complex to
mediate the chromatin structure changes if recruited to the LacI-
JIL-1 tethering sites is the Brahma (BRM) chromatin remodeling
complex, which is associated with nearly all transcriptionally
active chromatin at chromosome puffs and interband polytene
chromosome regions (Armstrong et al., 2002). However, as
shown in Fig. 6D, levels of the BRM protein are considerably
lower at the LacI-JIL-1 tethering site in the homozygous P11.3
lacO insertion line compared with the levels at adjacent interband
Chromatin structure remodeling
Fig. 5. Tethering of LacI-JIL-1 to lacO repeat insertion lines using
a late-onset Sgs3-GAL4 driver. The figure shows polytene squash
preparations double labeled with LacI antibody (green) and propidium
iodide (red or gray). (A) Homozygous preparation for the band insertion
line P11.3. (B) Heterozygous preparation for the interband insertion line
4D5. Arrows in A,B point to areas of compacted chromatin that were
decondensed where LacI-JIL-1 was targeted.
Fig. 6. Tethering of LacI-JIL-1 is not
associated with upregulation of
either Pol II0ser2, Pol II0ser5, histone
H4K16 acetylation or of the BRM
complex at the LacO insertion site.
Triple labelings with JIL-1 antibody (in
green), Pol II0ser2antibody (A) or Pol
II0ser5antibody (B) (in red), and Hoechst
33258 (in blue or gray) of polytene
squash preparations from larvae
homozygous for the lacO repeat line
P11.3. (C) Triple labeling with JIL-1
antibody (in green), histone H4K16ac
antibody (in red) and Hoechst (in blue or
gray) of a polytene squash preparation
from a male third instar larvae
homozygous for the lacO repeat line
P19.9. The upregulation of histone
H4K16 acetylation on the male X
chromosome (X) is clearly evident in
comparison to the normal autosomal
level at the tethering site (arrows).
(D) Triple labelings with LacI antibody (in
green), Brahma antibody (in red) and
Hoechst 33258 (in blue or gray) of
polytene squash preparations from larvae
homozygous for the lacO repeat line
A large number of histone modifications, such as acetylation,
methylation and phosphorylation,have been correlated with changes
in chromatin structure and gene transcription (Allis et al., 2007). The
modifications have been broadly classified as either repressing or
activating; however, it has become clear that many of these marks
may have several complex and seemingly conflicting roles (Berger,
2007). For this reason it has been difficult to assign clear mechanistic
functions to these histone marks and to determine whether they
represent a cause or an effect. For example, in previous studies of
histone H3S10 phosphorylation in Drosophila using mutational
analysis (Wang et al., 2001; Zhang et al., 2006) it could not be
resolved whether the H3S10ph mark had the capacity to induce
chromatin changes or whether it played only a reinforcing or
maintenance role. Here we demonstrate using a LacI tethering
system that ectopic histone H3S10 phosphorylation by the JIL-1
kinase is sufficient to cause striking changes in chromatin packaging
from a condensed to an open state. This effect was absent when a
‘kinase dead’ LacI-JIL-1 construct without histone H3S10
phosphorylation activity was expressed. This indicates that the
observed chromatin structure changes depended on JIL-1-kinase-
mediated histone H3S10 phosphorylation and not on the tethering
of the LacI-JIL-1 construct itself. Instead, the kinase dead construct
had a dominant-negative effect,leading to a disruption of chromatin
structure that was associated with a global repression of histone
H3S10 phosphorylation levels. Interestingly, these dominant-
negative effects of LacI-JIL-1-kd on chromatin structure phenocopy
those observed in JIL-1 loss-of-function null mutants (Wang et al.,
2001; Deng et al., 2005). Furthermore, using a late-onset driver we
show that LacI-JIL-1-induced histone H3S10 phosphorylation can
also effect changes after polytene chromosome band/interband
structure has been well established at second and early third instar
larval stages (Ananiev and Barsky, 1985; Zhimulev et al., 2004).
Thus, the changes in chromatin packaging are not likely to depend
on constitutive histone H3S10 phosphorylation or a stage-specific
Phosphorylation of histone H3S10 has been linked to heat-
shock-induced chromatin puffs and transcriptional activation in
Drosophila (Nowak and Corces, 2004; Ivaldi et al., 2007),
suggesting the possibility that the chromatin changes resulting
from ectopic LacI-JIL-1 tethering could be associated with
activation of the RNA polymerase II machinery. However, several
studies have indicated that the expanded chromatin state during
puffing in many cases precedes and/or is separable from gene
activation (Meyerowitz et al., 1985; Tulin and Spradling, 2003).
Using antibody to the elongating form of RNA polymerase II we
did not detect any indications of increased transcriptional activity
at the LacI-JIL-1 tethering sites. Similarly, there was no
upregulation compared to adjacent interband regions of the BRM
chromatin remodeling complex, which has been shown to play a
general role in facilitating transcription by RNA polymerase II in
Drosophila (Armstrong et al., 2002). Taken together, these results
indicate that the histone H3S10-phosphorylation-induced changes
observed in this study are not likely to be a consequence of
enhanced transcriptional activity. However, it should be
emphasized that a role for the BRM complex or other chromatin
remodeling complexes in mediating these changes in chromatin
structure cannot be ruled out based on the present experiments but
will require more comprehensive studies.
The above described observations suggest a model for how
targeting of LacI-JIL-1 can establish euchromatic domains in
otherwise banded polytene regions with condensed higher-order
chromatin (Fig. 7). The presence of an extended region of lacO
repeats recruits a high level of LacI-JIL-1, which in turn
hyperphosphorylates histone H3S10 at the target site as well as at
phosphorylation of histone H3S10 subsequently induces the
release of condensing factors and/or recruits euchromatic
remodeling factors (Fig. 7B). It is unlikely that H3S10
phosphorylation would have a direct effect on higher-order
chromatin folding, as nucleosomal arrays assembled with
phosphorylated H3S10 do not behave differently from
unmodified H3S10 (Fry et al., 2004). In addition, mutational
analysis has demonstrated that JIL-1-mediated maintenance of
H3S10 phosphorylation levels at euchromatic regions is necessary
to counteract heterochromatization and gene silencing (Zhang et
al., 2006). Therefore, a plausible scenario for a molecular
mechanism is that the ectopic phosphorylation of histone H3S10
antagonizes the binding and/or activity of condensing factors,
thereby inducing a euchromatic chromatin state (Fig. 7B).
Interestingly, phosphorylation of histone H3S10 by the Aurora B
kinase during mitosis has been shown to mediate the dissociation
of HP1 proteins from heterochromatin in a ‘methyl/phos switch’
mechanism (Fischle et al., 2005; Hirota et al., 2005), although a
causal relationship between this ‘switch’ and chromosome
condensation has yet to be established. However, our data
demonstrate that during interphase H3S10 phosphorylation plays
a different role from that during mitosis and that this epigenetic
modification is likely to be a crucial factor in establishing, as well
as in maintaining, euchromatic chromatin domains during
chromatin regions (Fig. 7B). The ectopic
Development 135 (4)
Fig. 7. Model for the establishment of a euchromatic
chromatin state by ectopic H3S10 phosphorylation. (A) lacO
repeats (in red) inserted into a polytene band region with condensed
chromatin in the absence of LacI-JIL-1 expression. The region has
normal band-interband morphology. (B) When LacI-JIL-1 is expressed,
the extended region of lacO repeats recruits high levels of LacI-JIL-1,
which in turn hyperphosphorylates histone H3S10 at the target site
as well as at adjacent chromatin regions. The ectopic
phosphorylation of histone H3S10 subsequently induces the release
of condensing factors and/or recruits chromatin remodeling factors,
resulting in a euchromatic chromatin state at and near the insertion
We thank members of the laboratory for discussion, advice and critical reading Download full-text
of the manuscript. We also wish to acknowledge Ms V. Lephart for
maintenance of fly stocks and Mr Laurence Woodruff for technical assistance.
We especially thank Dr L. Wallrath for providing the GFP-lacI transgenic stock
128.1 and the lac operator repeats transgenic stock 4D5 and Dr J. Tamkun for
the Brahma antibody. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health
grant GM62916 to K.M.J. and grant GM58460 to A.S.B.
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Chromatin structure remodeling