Kaneko S, Son J, Shen SS, Reinberg D, Bonasio R
EZH2 is the catalytic subunit of PRC2, a central epigenetic repressor essential for development processes in vivo and for the differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in vitro. The biochemical function of PRC2 in depositing repressive H3K27me3 marks is well understood, but how it is regulated and directed to specific genes before and during differentiation remains unknown. Here, we report that PRC2 binds at low levels to a majority of promoters in mouse ESCs, including many that are active and devoid of H3K27me3. Using in vivo RNA-protein cross-linking, we show that EZH2 directly binds the 5' region of nascent RNAs transcribed from a subset of these promoters and that these binding events correlate with decreased H3K27me3. Our findings suggest a molecular mechanism by which PRC2 senses the transcriptional state of the cell and translates it into epigenetic information.