Ubiquitination of Histone H2B by Proteasome Subunit RPT6 Controls Histone Methylation Chromatin Dynamics During Memory Formation



      Posttranslational histone modifications play a critical role in the regulation of gene transcription underlying synaptic plasticity and memory formation. One such epigenetic change is histone ubiquitination, a process that is mediated by the ubiquitin–proteasome system in a manner similar to that by which proteins are normally targeted for degradation. However, histone ubiquitination mechanisms are poorly understood in the brain and in learning. In this article, we describe a new role for the ubiquitin–proteasome system in histone crosstalk, showing that learning-induced monoubiquitination of histone H2B (H2Bubi) is required for increases in the transcriptionally active H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) mark at learning-related genes in the hippocampus.


      Using a series of molecular, biochemical, electrophysiological, and behavioral experiments, we interrogated the effects of short interfering RNA–mediated knockdown and CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-mediated upregulation of ubiquitin ligases, deubiquitinating enzymes and histone methyltransferases in the rat dorsal hippocampus during memory consolidation.


      We show that H2Bubi recruits H3K4me3 through a process that is dependent on the 19S proteasome subunit RPT6 and that a loss of H2Bubi in the hippocampus prevents learning-induced increases in H3K4me3, gene transcription, synaptic plasticity, and memory formation. Furthermore, we show that CRISPR–dCas9-mediated increases in H2Bubi promote H3K4me3 and memory formation under weak training conditions and that promoting histone methylation does not rescue memory impairments resulting from loss of H2Bubi.


      These results suggest that H2B ubiquitination regulates histone crosstalk in learning by way of nonproteolytic proteasome function, demonstrating a novel mechanism by which histone modifications are coordinated in response to learning.


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