Ridinger-Saison M, Evanno E, Gallais I, Rimmelé P, Selimoglu-Buet D, Sapharikas E, Moreau-Gachelin F, Guillouf C
Deregulation of transcriptional networks contributes to haematopoietic malignancies. The transcription factor Spi-1/PU.1 is a master regulator of haematopoiesis and its alteration leads to leukaemia. Spi-1 overexpression inhibits differentiation and promotes resistance to apoptosis in erythroleukaemia. Here, we show that Spi-1 inhibits mitochondrial apoptosis in vitro and in vivo through the transcriptional repression of Bim, a proapoptotic factor. BIM interacts with MCL-1 that behaves as a major player in the survival of the preleukaemic cells. The repression of BIM expression reduces the amount of BIM-MCL-1 complexes, thus increasing the fraction of potentially active antiapoptotic MCL-1. We then demonstrate that Spi-1 represses Bim transcription by binding to the Bim promoter and by promoting the trimethylation of histone 3 on lysine 27 (H3K27me3, a repressive histone mark) on the Bim promoter. The PRC2 repressive complex of Polycomb is directly responsible for the deposit of H3K27me3 mark at the Bim promoter. SUZ12 and the histone methyltransferase EZH2, two PRC2 subunits bind to the Bim promoter at the same location than H3K27me3, distinct of the Spi-1 DNA binding site. As Spi-1 interacts with SUZ12 and EZH2, these results indicate that Spi-1 modulates the activity of PRC2 without directly recruiting the complex to the site of its activity on the chromatin. Our results identify a new mechanism whereby Spi-1 represses transcription and provide mechanistic insights on the antiapoptotic function of a transcription factor mediated by the epigenetic control of gene expression.