Vaughan RM, Kupai A, Foley CA, Sagum CA, Tibben BM, Eden HE, Tiedemann RL, Berryhill CA, Patel V, Shaw KM, Krajewski K, Strahl BD, Bedford MT, Frye SV, Dickson BM and Rothbart SB.
Epigenetics & Chromatin 13, 44 (2020)
The chromatin-binding E3 ubiquitin ligase ubiquitin-like with PHD and RING finger domains 1 (UHRF1) contributes to the maintenance of aberrant DNA methylation patterning in cancer cells through multivalent histone and DNA recognition. The tandem Tudor domain (TTD) of UHRF1 is well-characterized as a reader of lysine 9 di- and tri-methylation on histone H3 (H3K9me2/me3) and, more recently, lysine 126 di- and tri-methylation on DNA ligase 1 (LIG1K126me2/me3). However, the functional significance and selectivity of these interactions remain unclear. In this study, we used protein domain microarrays to search for additional readers of LIG1K126me2, the preferred methyl state bound by the UHRF1 TTD. We show that the UHRF1 TTD binds LIG1K126me2 with high affinity and selectivity compared to other known methyllysine readers. Notably, and unlike H3K9me2/me3, the UHRF1 plant homeodomain (PHD) and its N-terminal linker (L2) do not contribute to multivalent LIG1K126me2 recognition along with the TTD. To test the functional significance of this interaction, we designed a LIG1K126me2 cell-penetrating peptide (CPP). Consistent with LIG1 knockdown, uptake of the CPP had no significant effect on the propagation of DNA methylation patterning across the genomes of bulk populations from high-resolution analysis of several cancer cell lines. Further, we did not detect significant changes in DNA methylation patterning from bulk cell populations after chemical or genetic disruption of lysine methyltransferase activity associated with LIG1K126me2 and H3K9me2. Collectively, these studies identify UHRF1 as a selective reader of LIG1K126me2 in vitro and further implicate the histone and non-histone methyllysine reader activity of the UHRF1 TTD as a dispensable domain function for cancer cell DNA methylation maintenance.