Tardat M, Brustel J, Kirsh O, Lefevbre C, Callanan M, Sardet C, Julien E
The initiation of DNA synthesis is governed by the licensing of replication origins, which consists of assembling a pre-replication complex (pre-RC) on origins during late M- and G1-phases. In metazoans, functional replication origins do not show defined DNA consensus sequences, thus evoking the involvement of chromatin determinants in the selection of these origins. Here, we show that the onset of licensing in mammalian cells coincides with an increase in histone H4 Lys 20 monomethylation (H4K20me1) at replication origins by the methyltransferase PR-Set7 (also known as Set8 or KMT5A). Indeed, tethering PR-Set7 methylase activity to a specific genomic locus promotes the loading of pre-RC proteins on chromatin. In addition, we demonstrate that PR-Set7 undergoes a PCNA- and Cul4-Ddb1-driven degradation during S phase that contributes to the disappearance of H4K20me1 at origins and the inhibition of replication licensing. Strikingly, expression of a PR-Set7 mutant insensitive to this degradation causes the maintenance of H4K20me1 and repeated DNA replication at origins. These results elucidate a critical role for PR-Set7 and H4K20me1 in the chromatin events that regulate replication origins.