A systematic genetic screen identifies new factors influencing centromeric heterochromatin integrity in fission yeast

Elizabeth H. Bayne, Dominika A Bijos, Sharon A. White, Flavia de Lima Alves, Juri Rappsilber, Robin C. Allshire

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Heterochromatin plays important roles in the regulation and stability of eukaryotic genomes. Both heterochromatin components and pathways that promote heterochromatin assembly, including RNA interference, RNAi, are broadly conserved between the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and humans. As a result, fission yeast has emerged as an important model system for dissecting mechanisms governing heterochromatin integrity. Thus far, over 50 proteins have been found to contribute to heterochromatin assembly at fission yeast centromeres. However, previous studies have not been exhaustive, and it is therefore likely that further factors remain to be identified.


To gain a more complete understanding of heterochromatin assembly pathways, we have performed a systematic genetic screen for factors required for centromeric heterochromatin integrity. In addition to known RNAi and chromatin modification components, we identified several proteins with previously undescribed roles in heterochromatin regulation. These included both known and newly characterised splicing-associated proteins, which are required for proper processing of centromeric transcripts by the RNAi pathway, and COP9 signalosome components Csn1 and Csn2, whose role in heterochromatin assembly can be explained at least in part by a role in the Ddb1-dependent degradation of the heterochromatin regulator Epe1.


This work has revealed new factors involved in RNAi-directed heterochromatin assembly in fission yeast. Our findings support and extend previous observations that implicate components of the splicing machinery as a platform for RNAi, and demonstrate a novel role for the COP9 signalosome in heterochromatin regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number481
Number of pages16
JournalGenome Biology
Issue number481
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2014


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