The products of Polycomb group (PcG) genes are required for the epigenetic repression of a number of important developmental regulatory genes, including homeotic genes. Enhancer of zeste (E(Z)) is a Drosophila PcG protein that previously has been shown to bind directly to another PcG protein, Extra Sex Combs (ESC), and is present along with ESC in a 600-kDa complex in Drosophila embryos. Using yeast two-hybrid and in vitro binding assays, we show that E(Z) binds directly to another PcG protein, Polycomblike (PCL). PCL·E(Z) interaction is shown to be mediated by the plant homeodomain (PHD) fingers domain of PCL, providing evidence that this motif can act as an independent protein interaction domain. An association was also observed between PHF1 and EZH2, human homologs of PCL and E(Z), respectively, demonstrating the evolutionary conservation of this interaction. E(Z) was found to not interact with the PHD domains of three Drosophila trithorax group (trxG) proteins, which function to maintain the transcriptional activity of homeotic genes, providing evidence for the specificity of the interaction of E(Z) with the PCL PHD domain. Coimmunoprecipitation and gel filtration experiments demonstrate in vivo association of PCL with E(Z) and ESC in Drosophila embryos. We discuss the implications of PCL association with ESC·E(Z) complexes and the possibility that PCL may either be a subunit of a subset of ESC·E(Z) complexes or a subunit of a separate complex that interacts with ESC·E(Z) complexes.
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