Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Genes and Development

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Sharon Y. R. Dent, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michelle C. Barton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin A. Morano, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jill M. Schumacher, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.


Eukaryotic genomes exist within a dynamic structure named chromatin in which DNA is wrapped around an octamer of histones forming the nucleosome. Histones are modified by a range of posttranslational modifications including methylation, phosphorylation, and ubiquitination, which are integral to a range of DNA-templated processes including transcriptional regulation. A hallmark for transcriptional activity is methylation of histone H3 on lysine (K) 4 within active gene promoters. In S. cerevisiae, H3K4 methylation is mediated by Set1 within the COMPASS complex. Methylation requires prior ubiquitination of histone H2BK123 by the E2-E3 ligases Rad6 and Bre1, as well as the Paf1 transcriptional elongation complex. This regulatory pathway exemplifies cross-talk in trans between posttranslational modifications on distinct histone molecules. Set1 has an additional substrate in the kinetochore protein Dam1, which is methylated on K233. This methylation antagonizes phosphorylation of adjacent serines by the Ipl1 Aurora kinase. The discovery of a second Set1 substrate raised the question of how Set1 function is regulated at the kinetochore. I hypothesized that transcriptional regulatory factors essential for H3K4 methylation at gene promoters might also regulate Set1-mediated methylation of Dam1K233. Here I show that the regulatory factors essential for COMPASS activity at gene promoters is also indispensable for the methylation of Dam1K233. Deletion of members of the COMPASS complex leads to loss of Dam1K233 methylation. In addition, deletion of Rad6, Bre1, or members of the Paf1 complex abolishes Dam1 methylation. The role of Rad6 and Bre1 in Dam1 methylation is dependent on H2BK123 ubiquitination, as mutation of K123 within H2B results in complete loss of Dam1 methylation. Importantly, methylation of Dam1K233 is independent of transcription and occurs at the kinetochore. My results demonstrate that Set1-mediated methylation is regulated by a general pathway regardless of substrate that is composed of transcriptional regulatory factors functioning independently of transcription at the kinetochore. My data provide the first example of cross-talk in trans between modifications on a histone and a non-histone protein. Additionally, my results indicate that several factors previously thought to be required for Set1 function at gene promoters are more generally required for the catalytic activity of the COMPASS complex regardless of substrate or cellular process.


Dam1, Set1, Ipl1, Rad6, Bre1, Paf1, histone, ubiquitination, methylation, phosphorylation, kinetochore, cross-talk