EVI1 recruits the histone methyltransferase SUV39H1 for transcription repression



EVI1 is an oncoprotein inappropriately expressed in acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome cells. In vitro studies indicate that diverse biological properties can be attributed to this protein. Its role in leukemogenesis is still unclear but it is thought that overall EVI1 can act mostly as a transcription repressor through its interaction with a subset of histone deacetylases. Studies with histone deacetylase inhibitors have however indicated that EVI1-mediated repression can be only partially rescued by deacetylase inhibitor drugs, suggesting that additional chromosomal modifications might occur to induce gene repression by EVI1. To investigate whether histone methylation contributes to the repressive potential of EVI1, we examined a potential association between EVI1, the histone methyltransferase (HMT) SUV39H1, and methyltransferase activity in vitro. We find that EVI1 directly interacts with SUV39H1 and that the proteins form an active complex with methyltransferase activity in vitro. Our data indicate that SUV39H1 enhances the transcription repressive potential of EVI1 in vivo. We suggest that EVI1 affects promoters' activity in two different pathways, by association with histone deacetylases and by recruiting chromatin-modifying enzymes to impose a heterochromatin-like structure establishing a lasting transcription repression. J. Cell. Biochem. 105: 344–352, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.