Elucidation of the two H3K36me3 histone methyltransferases Set2 and Ash1 in Fusarium fujikuroi unravels their different chromosomal targets and a major impact of Ash1 on genome stability.
In this work, we present a comprehensive analysis of the H3K36 histone methyltransferases Set2 and Ash1 in the filamentous ascomycete Fusarium fujikuroi In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, one single methyltransferase, Set2, confers all H3K36 methylation, while there are two members of the Set2 family in filamentous fungi, and even more H3K36 methyltransferases in higher eukaryotes. Whereas the yeast Set2 homolog has been analyzed in fungi previously, the second member of the Set2 family, designated Ash1, has not been described for any filamentous fungus. Western blot and ChIP-Seq analyses confirmed that F. fujikuroi Set2 and Ash1 are H3K36-specific histone methyltransferases that deposit H3K36me3 at specific loci: Set2 is most likely responsible for H3K36 methylation of euchromatic regions of the genome, while Ash1 methylates H3K36 at the subtelomeric regions (facultative heterochromatin) of all chromosomes, including the accessory chromosome XII. Our data indicate that H3K36me3 cannot be considered a hallmark of euchromatin in F. fujikuroi, and likely also other filamentous fungi, making them different to what is known about nuclear characteristics in yeast and higher eukaryotes. We suggest that the H3K36 methylation mark exerts specific functions when deposited at euchromatic or subtelomeric regions by Set2 or Ash1, respectively. We found an enhanced level of H3K27me3, an increased instability of subtelomeric regions and losses of the accessory chromosome XII over time in Δash1 mutants, indicating an involvement of Ash1 in DNA repair processes. Further phenotypic analyses revealed a role of H3K36 methylation in vegetative growth, sporulation, secondary metabolite biosynthesis, and virulence in F. fujikuroi.