New Partners in Regulation of Gene Expression: The Enhancer of Trithorax and Polycomb Corto Interacts with Methylated Ribosomal Protein L12 Via Its Chromodomain
Chromodomains are found in many regulators of chromatin structure, and most of them recognize methylated lysines on histones. Here, we investigate the role of the Drosophila melanogaster protein Corto's chromodomain. The Enhancer of Trithorax and Polycomb Corto is involved in both silencing and activation of gene expression. Over-expression of the Corto chromodomain (CortoCD) in transgenic flies shows that it is a chromatin-targeting module, critical for Corto function. Unexpectedly, mass spectrometry analysis reveals that polypeptides pulled down by CortoCD from nuclear extracts correspond to ribosomal proteins. Furthermore, real-time interaction analyses demonstrate that CortoCD binds with high affinity RPL12 tri-methylated on lysine 3. Corto and RPL12 co-localize with active epigenetic marks on polytene chromosomes, suggesting that both are involved in fine-tuning transcription of genes in open chromatin. RNA–seq based transcriptomes of wing imaginal discs over-expressing either CortoCD or RPL12 reveal that both factors deregulate large sets of common genes, which are enriched in heat-response and ribosomal protein genes, suggesting that they could be implicated in dynamic coordination of ribosome biogenesis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments show that Corto and RPL12 bind hsp70 and are similarly recruited on gene body after heat shock. Hence, Corto and RPL12 could be involved together in regulation of gene transcription. We discuss whether pseudo-ribosomal complexes composed of various ribosomal proteins might participate in regulation of gene expression in connection with chromatin regulators. Chromatin, the combination of DNA and histones, strongly impacts transcriptional regulation of genes. This is achieved thanks to various protein complexes that bind chromatin and remodel its structure. These complexes bind specific motifs, also called epigenetic marks, through specific protein domains. Among these domains, chromodomains are well known to bind methylated histones. Investigating the chromodomain of the Drosophila melanogaster chromatin factor Corto, we found that it interacts with methylated ribosomal protein L12 rather than with methylated histones. This is the first time that such an interaction is shown. Moreover, Corto and RPL12 co-localize with active epigenetic marks on polytene chromosomes, suggesting that both are involved in fine-tuning transcription of genes. Our results represent a major breakthrough in the understanding of mechanisms by which ribosomal proteins achieve extra-ribosomal functions such as transcriptional regulation. Genome-wide analysis of larval tissue transcripts reveals that Corto and RPL12 deregulate large sets of common genes, which are enriched in ribosomal protein genes, suggesting that both proteins are implicated in dynamic coordination of ribosome biogenesis.