Background: Chromatin proteins control gene activity in a concerted manner. We developed a high-throughput assay to study the effects of the local chromatin environment on the regulatory activity of a protein of interest. The assay combines a previously reported multiplexing strategy based on barcoded randomly integrated reporters with Gal4-mediated tethering. We applied the assay to Drosophila heterochromatin protein 1a (HP1a), which is mostly known as a repressive protein but has also been linked to transcriptional activation. Results: Recruitment to over 1000 genomic locations revealed that HP1a is a potent repressor able to silence even highly expressing reporter genes. However, the local chromatin context can modulate HP1a function. In pericentromeric regions, HP1a-induced repression was enhanced by twofold. In regions marked by a H3K36me3-rich chromatin signature, HP1a-dependent silencing was significantly decreased. We found no evidence for an activating function of HP1a in our experimental system. Furthermore, we did not observe stable transmission of repression over mitotic divisions after loss of targeted HP1a. Conclusions: The multiplexed tethered reporter assay should be applicable to a large number of chromatin proteins and will be a useful tool to dissect combinatorial regulatory interactions in chromatin.

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Epigenetics & Chromatin
Biophysical Genomics, Department Cell Biology & Genetics

Brueckner, L. (Laura), Van Arensbergen, J. (Joris), Akhtar, W. (Waseem), Pagie, L., & van Steensel, B. (2016). High-throughput assessment of context-dependent effects of chromatin proteins. Epigenetics & Chromatin, 9(1). doi:10.1186/s13072-016-0096-y