Components of the Fanconi anemia and homologous recombination pathways play a vital role in protecting newly replicated DNA from uncontrolled nucleolytic degradation, safeguarding genome stability. Here we report that histone methylation by the lysine methyltransferase SETD1A is crucial for protecting stalled replication forks from deleterious resection. Depletion of SETD1A sensitizes cells to replication stress and leads to uncontrolled DNA2-dependent resection of damaged replication forks. The ability of SETD1A to prevent degradation of these structures is mediated by its ability to catalyze methylation on Lys4 of histone H3 (H3K4) at replication forks, which enhances FANCD2-dependent histone chaperone activity. Suppressing H3K4 methylation or expression of a chaperone-defective FANCD2 mutant leads to loss of RAD51 nucleofilament stability and severe nucleolytic degradation of replication forks. Our work identifies epigenetic modification and histone mobility as critical regulatory mechanisms in maintaining genome stability by restraining nucleases from irreparably damaging stalled replication forks.
The ring finger protein PCGF6 (polycomb group ring finger 6) interacts with RING1A/B and E2F6 associated factors to form a non-canonical PRC1 (polycomb repressive complex 1) known as PCGF6-PRC1. Here, we demonstrate that PCGF6-PRC1 plays a role in repressing a subset of PRC1 target genes by recruiting RING1B and mediating downstream mono-ubiquitination of histone H2A. PCGF6-PRC1 bound loci are highly enriched for promoters of germ cell-related genes in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Conditional ablation of Pcgf6 in ESCs leads to robust de-repression of such germ cell-related genes, in turn affecting cell growth and viability. We also find a role for PCGF6 in pre- and peri-implantation mouse embryonic development. We further show that a heterodimer of the transcription factors MAX and MGA recruits PCGF6 to target loci. PCGF6 thus links sequence specific target recognition by the MAX/MGA complex to PRC1-dependent transcriptional silencing of germ cell-specific genes in pluripotent stem cells.