Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Susanna F Greer - Chair

Second Advisor

Delon W Barfuss

Third Advisor

Teryl K Frey


It is evident that components of the 26S proteasome function beyond protein degradation in the regulation of transcription. Studies in yeast implicate the 26S proteasome, specifically the 19S cap, in the epigenetic regulation of transcription. Saccharomyces cerevisiae 19S ATPases remodel chromatin by facilitating histone acetylation and methylation. However, it is unclear if the 19S ATPases play similar roles in mammalian cells. We previously found that the 19S ATPase Sug1 positively regulates transcription of the critical inflammatory gene MHC-II and that the MHC-II promoter fails to efficiently bind transcription factors upon Sug1 knockdown. MHC-II transcription is regulated by the critical coactivator CIITA. We now find that Sug1 is crucial for regulating histone H3 acetylation at the cytokine inducible MHC-II and CIITA promoters. Histone H3 acetylation is dramatically decreased upon Sug1 knockdown with a preferential loss occurring at lysine 18. Research in yeast indicates that the ortholog of Sug1, Rpt6, acts as a mediator between the activating modifications of histone H2B ubiquitination and H3 methylation. Therefore, we characterized the role the 19S proteasome plays in regulating additional activating modifications. As with acetylation, Sug1 is necessary for proper histone H3K4 and H3R17 methylation at cytokine inducible promoters. In the absence of Sug1, histone H3K4me3 and H3R17me2 are substantially inhibited. Our observation that the loss of Sug1 has no significant effect on H3K36me3 implies that Sug1’s regulation of histone modifications is localized to promoter regions as H3K4me3 but not H3K36me3 is clustered around gene promoters. Here we show that multiple H3K4 histone methyltransferase subunits bind constitutively to the inducible MHC-II and CIITA promoters and that over-expressing one subunit significantly enhances promoter activity. Furthermore, we identified a critical subunit of the H3K4 methyltransferase complex that binds multiple histone modifying enzymes, but fails to bind the CIITA promoter in the absence of Sug1, implicating Sug1 in recruiting multi-enzyme complexes responsible for initiating transcription. Finally, Sug1 knockdown maintains gene silencing as elevated levels of H3K27 trimethylation are observed upon Sug1 knockdown. Together these studies strongly implicate the 19S proteasome in mediating the initial reorganization events to relax the repressive chromatin structure surrounding inducible genes.

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