The MLL family of histone methyltransferases maintains active chromatin domains by methylating histone H3 on lysine 4 (H3K4). How MLL complexes recognize specific chromatin domains in a temporal and tissue-specific manner remains unclear. We show that the DNA-binding protein PAX2 promotes assembly of an H3K4 methyltransferase complex through the ubiquitously expressed nuclear factor PTIP (pax transcription activation domain interacting protein). PTIP copurifies with ALR, MLL3, and other components of a histone methyltransferase complex. PTIP promotes assembly of the ALR complex and H3K4 methylation at a PAX2-binding DNA element. Without PTIP, Pax2 binds to this element but does not assemble the ALR complex. Embryonic lethal ptip-null mutants and conditional mutants both show reduced levels of methylated H3K4. Thus, PTIP bridges DNA-binding developmental regulators to histone methyltransferase-dependent epigenetic regulation.
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