hMOF (MYST1), a histone acetyltransferase (HAT), forms at least two distinct multiprotein complexes in human cells. The male specific lethal (MSL) HAT complex plays a key role in dosage compensation in Drosophila and is responsible for histone H4K16ac in vivo. We and others previously described a second hMOF-containing HAT complex, the non-specific lethal (NSL) HAT complex. The NSL complex has a broader substrate specificity, can acetylate H4 on K16, K5, and K8. The WD (tryptophan-aspartate) repeat domain 5 (WDR5) and host cell factor 1 (HCF1) are shared among members of the MLL/SET (mixed-lineage leukemia/set-domain containing) family of histone H3K4 methyltransferase complexes. The presence of these shared subunits raises the possibility that there are functional links between these complexes and the histone modifications they catalyze; however, the degree to which NSL and MLL/SET influence one another's activities remains unclear. Here, we present evidence from biochemical assays and knockdown/overexpression approaches arguing that the NSL HAT promotes histone H3K4me2 by MLL/SET complexes by an acetylation-dependent mechanism. In genomic experiments, we identified a set of genes including ANKRD2, that are affected by knockdown of both NSL and MLL/SET subunits, suggested they are co-regulated by NSL and MLL/SET complexes. In ChIP assays, we observe that depletion of the NSL subunits hMOF or NSL1 resulted in a significant reduction of both H4K16ac and H3K4me2 in the vicinity of the ANKRD2 transcriptional start site proximal region. However, depletion of RbBP5 (a core component of MLL/SET complexes) only reduced H3K4me2 marks, but not H4K16ac in the same region of ANKRD2, consistent with the idea that NSL acts upstream of MLL/SET to regulate H3K4me2 at certain promoters, suggesting coordination between NSL and MLL/SET complexes is involved in transcriptional regulation of certain genes. Taken together, our results suggest a crosstalk between the NSL and MLL/SET complexes in cells.
Covalent modification of N-terminal tails of histone proteins is accomplished by a variety of chromatin modifying complexes. These complexes catalyze at least eight distinct types of histone modifications including acetylation, methylation, phosphorylation, and ubiquitination. Histone modifications may act alone or in a coordinated manner to activate or repress chromosomal processes. For example, a particular histone modification may recruit or activate chromatin modifying complexes that generate a different histone modification. Coordination between hMOF-mediated histone H4K16 acetylation and other histone modifications has been reported by several research groups. The presence of subunits shared between the hMOF-containing NSL and MLL/SET family complexes suggests there may be functional links between two complexes. Consistent with this idea, we identified a set of genes that are co-regulated by the NSL and MLL/SET complexes. Both in vitro and in vivo experimental approaches provide evidence that the NSL HAT functions in promoting histone H3K4 di-methylation activity by MLL/SET complexes. Interestingly crosstalk between hMOF/NSL HAT and MLL/SET HMT activity seems to be unidirectional since there we detected no effect of MLL/SET activity on NSL HAT, either in vitro or in cells.