Jumonji modulates polycomb activity and self-renewal versus differentiation of stem cells.
Trimethylation on histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) by Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) regulates the balance between self-renewal and differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). The mechanisms controlling the activity and recruitment of PRC2 are largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the founding member of the Jumonji family, JMJ (JUMONJI or JARID2), is associated with PRC2, colocalizes with PRC2 and H3K27me3 on chromatin, and modulates PRC2 function. In vitro JMJ inhibits PRC2 methyltransferase activity, consistent with increased H3K27me3 marks at PRC2 targets in Jmj(-/-) ESCs. Paradoxically, JMJ is required for efficient binding of PRC2, indicating that the interplay of PRC2 and JMJ fine-tunes deposition of the H3K27me3 mark. During differentiation, activation of genes marked by H3K27me3 and lineage commitments are delayed in Jmj(-/-) ESCs. Our results demonstrate that dynamic regulation of Polycomb complex activity orchestrated by JMJ balances self-renewal and differentiation, highlighting the involvement of chromatin dynamics in cell-fate transitions.