UNDERSTANDING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE POLYCOMB CBX PARALOGS IN BINDING AND ONCOGENSIS

2019-01-17T14:22:02Z (GMT) by Katelyn E. Connelly
The transcriptional repressor Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1) is critical for stem cell maintenance and proper differentiation and as such is involved in the development and progression of cancer. Canonical PRC1, composed of PCGF, PHC, RING and CBX, binds histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) allowing for ubiquitination, chromatin compaction and subsequently transcriptional silencing. In mammals, each subunit has multiple paralogs creating functional and compositional diversity. The greatest diversity is contributed by the CBX targeting subunit with five mutually exclusive paralogs (CBX2/4/6/7/8). The CBX paralogs contain an N-terminal chromodomain for methyllysine binding. There has been interest in the CBX paralogs due to their misregulation in various cancers and the “druggability” of the chromodomain histone interaction. However, the unique biochemical and transcriptional functions of the paralogs are unclear. Expression changes during lineage specification and the context-dependent misregulation of CBX paralogs in cancers suggest the paralogs have paralog-specific functions. However, little has been done to define differences in paralog-mediated chromatin binding and regulation. This work utilizes a variety of approaches to tease apart the biological and biochemical functions of the CBX paralogs in chromatin binding and oncogenesis. In this dissertation, we identify a combinatorial therapeutic strategy using a CBX chromodomain inhibitor to enhance chemotherapeutic response. Further, this work demonstrates a role for CBX8 and its chromodomain in glioblastoma oncogenesis suggesting it may serve as a therapeutic target. Finally, we identify a binding mechanism for the CBX8 chromodomain in which DNA and H3K27me3 binding contribute to full chromatin association.