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In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, lysine 4 on histone H3 (H3K4) is methylated by the Set1 complex (Set1C or COMPASS). Besides the catalytic Set1 subunit, several proteins that form the Set1C (Swd1, Swd2, Swd3, Spp1, Bre2, and Sdc1) are also needed to mediate proper H3K4 methylation. Until this study, it has been unclear how individual Set1C members interact and how this interaction may impact histone methylation and gene expression. In this study, Bre2 and Sdc1 are shown to directly interact, and it is shown that the association of this heteromeric complex is needed for proper H3K4 methylation and gene expression to occur. Interestingly, mutational and biochemical analysis identified the C terminus of Bre2 as a critical protein-protein interaction domain that binds to the Dpy-30 domain of Sdc1. Using the human homologs of Bre2 and Sdc1, ASH2L and DPY-30, respectively, we demonstrate that the C terminus of ASH2L also interacts with the Dpy-30 domain of DPY-30, suggesting that this protein-protein interaction is maintained from yeast to humans. Because of the functionally conserved nature of the C terminus of Bre2 and ASH2L, this region was named the SDI (Sdc1 Dpy-30 interaction) domain. Finally, we show that the SDI-Dpy-30 domain interaction is physiologically important for the function of Set1 in vivo, because specific disruption of this interaction prevents Bre2 and Sdc1 association with Set1, resulting in H3K4 methylation defects and decreases in gene expression. Overall, these and other mechanistic studies on how H3K4 methyltransferase complexes function will likely provide insights into how human MLL and SET1-like complexes or over-expression of ASH2L leads to oncogenesis. © 2010 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

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Journal of Biological Chemistry

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