WDR5 associates with histone H3 methylated at K4 and is essential for H3 K4 methylation and vertebrate development.
Wysocka J., Swigut T., Milne TA., Dou Y., Zhang X., Burlingame AL., Roeder RG., Brivanlou AH., Allis CD.
Histone H3 lysine 4 (K4) methylation has been linked to the transcriptional activation in a variety of eukaryotic species. Here we show that a common component of MLL1, MLL2, and hSet1 H3 K4 methyltransferase complexes, the WD40-repeat protein WDR5, directly associates with histone H3 di- and trimethylated at K4 and with H3-K4-dimethylated nucleosomes. WDR5 is required for binding of the methyltransferase complex to the K4-dimethylated H3 tail as well as for global H3 K4 trimethylation and HOX gene activation in human cells. WDR5 is essential for vertebrate development, in that WDR5-depleted X. laevis tadpoles exhibit a variety of developmental defects and abnormal spatial Hox gene expression. Our results are the first demonstration that a WD40-repeat protein acts as a module for recognition of a specific histone modification and suggest a mechanism for reading and writing an epigenetic mark for gene activation.