Holocarboxylase synthetase interacts physically with euchromatic histone-lysine N-methyltransferase, linking histone biotinylation with methylation events

Yong Li, Yousef I. Hassan, Hideaki Moriyama, Janos Zempleni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Holocarboxylase synthetase (HCS) catalyzes the binding of the vitamin biotin to histones H3 and H4, thereby creating rare histone biotinylation marks in the epigenome. These marks co-localize with K9-methylated histone H3 (H3K9me), an abundant gene repression mark. The abundance of H3K9me marks in transcriptionally competent loci decreases when HCS is knocked down and when cells are depleted of biotin. Here we tested the hypothesis that the creation of H3K9me marks is at least partially explained by physical interactions between HCS and histone-lysine N-methyltransferases. Using a novel in silico protocol, we predicted that HCS-interacting proteins contain a GGGG(K/R)G(I/M)R motif. This motif, with minor variations, is present in the histone-lysine N-methyltransferase EHMT1. Physical interactions between HCS and the N-terminal, ankyrin and SET domains in EHMT1 were confirmed using yeast-two-hybrid assays, limited proteolysis assays and co-immunoprecipitation. The interactions were stronger between HCS and the N-terminus in EHMT1 compared with the ankyrin and SET domains, consistent with the localization of the HCS-binding motif in the EHMT1 N-terminus. HCS has the catalytic activity to biotinylate K161 within the binding motif in EHMT1. Mutation of K161 weakened the physical interaction between EHMT1 and HCS, but it is unknown whether this effect was caused by loss of biotinylation or loss of the motif. Importantly, HCS knockdown decreased the abundance of H3K9me marks in repeats, suggesting that HCS plays a role in creating histone methylation marks in these loci. We conclude that physical interactions between HCS and EHMT1 mediate epigenomic synergies between biotinylation and methylation events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1446-1452
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013



  • Biotin
  • EHMT1
  • Histones
  • Holocarboxylase synthetase
  • Methylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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