Dynamics of Polycomb chromatin domains under conditions of increased molecular crowding
Background InformationA Polycomb (PcG) body is an orphan nuclear subcompartment characterised by accumulations of Polycomb repressive complex 1 (PRC1) proteins. However, seemingly contradictory reports have appeared that describe the PcG bodies either as protein-based bodies in the interchromatin compartment or chromatin domains. In this respect, molecular crowding is an important factor for the assembly and stability of nuclear subcompartments. In order to settle this contradiction, crowding experiments, that represent a convenient model distinguishing between interchromatin and chromatin compartments, were carried out. ResultsIn sucrose-hypertonically induced crowding, we observed in U-2 OS cells that PcG bodies disappeared, but persisted as nuclear domains characterised by accumulations of DNA. This phenomenon was also observed in cells hypertonically treated with sorbitol and NaCl. Importantly, the observed changes were quickly reversible after re-incubation of cells in normal medium. We found that the PcG foci disappearance and the dissociation of PRC1 proteins (BMI1 and RING1a proteins) from chromatin were associated with their hyper-phosphorylation. In addition, under hyper- and hypotonic conditions, the behaviour of the PcG bodies differed from that of the typical nucleoplasmic body. ConclusionPRC1 proteins accumulations do not represent a genuine nuclear subcompartment. The PcG body is a chromosomal domain, rather than a nucleoplasmic body.