Polycomb complexes have traditionally been prescribed roles as transcriptional repressors, though increasing evidence demonstrate they can also activate gene expression. However, the mechanisms underlying positive gene regulation mediated by Polycomb proteins are poorly understood. Here, we show that RING1B, a core component of Polycomb Repressive Complex 1, regulates enhancer-promoter interaction of the bona fide estrogen-activated GREB1 gene. Systematic characterization of RNA:DNA hybrid formation (R-loops), nascent transcription and RNA Pol II activity upon estrogen administration revealed a key role of RING1B in gene activation by regulating R-loop formation and RNA Pol II elongation. We also found that the estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and RNA are both necessary for full RING1B recruitment to estrogen-activated genes. Notably, RING1B recruitment was mostly unaffected upon RNA Pol II depletion. Our findings delineate the functional interplay between RING1B, RNA and ERα to safeguard chromatin architecture perturbations required for estrogen-mediated gene regulation and highlight the crosstalk between steroid hormones and Polycomb proteins to regulate oncogenic programs.
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