The C. elegans Polycomb gene sop-2 encodes an RNA binding protein

Hong Zhang, Andrea Christoforou, L. Aravind, Scott W. Emmons, Sander Van Den Heuvel, Daniel A. Haber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Epigenetic silencing of Hox cluster genes by Polycomb group (PcG) proteins is thought to involve the formation of a stably inherited repressive chromatin structure. Here we show that the C. elegans-specific PcG protein SOP-2 directly binds to RNA through three nonoverlapping regions, each of which is essential for its localization to characteristic nuclear bodies and for its in vivo function in the repression of Hox genes. Functional studies indicate that the RNA involved in SOP-2 binding is distinct from either siRNA or microRNA. Remarkably, the vertebrate PcG protein Rae28, which is functionally and structurally related to SOP-2, also binds to RNA through an FCS finger domain. Substitution of the Rae28 FCS finger for the essential RNA binding region of SOP-2 partially restores localization to nuclear bodies. These observations suggest that direct binding to RNA is an evolutionarily conserved and potentially important property of PcG proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-847
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 18 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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