Bases of antisense lncRNA-associated regulation of gene expression in fission yeast

by Maxime Wery, Camille Gautier, Marc Descrimes, Mayuko Yoda, Valérie Migeot, Damien Hermand, Antonin Morillon

Antisense (as)lncRNAs can regulate gene expression but the underlying mechanisms and the different cofactors involved remain unclear. Using Native Elongating Transcript sequencing, here we show that stabilization of antisense Exo2-sensitivite lncRNAs (XUTs) results in the attenuation, at the nascent transcription level, of a subset of highly expressed genes displaying prominent promoter-proximal nucleosome depletion and histone acetylation. Mechanistic investigations on the catalase gene ctt1 revealed that its induction following oxidative stress is impaired in Exo2-deficient cells, correlating with the accumulation of an asXUT. Interestingly, expression of this asXUT was also activated in wild-type cells upon oxidative stress, concomitant to ctt1 induction, indicating a potential attenuation feedback. This attenuation correlates with asXUT abundance, it is transcriptional, characterized by low RNAPII-ser5 phosphorylation, and it requires an histone deacetylase activity and the conserved Set2 histone methyltransferase. Finally, we identified Dicer as another RNA processing factor acting on ctt1 induction, but independently of Exo2. We propose that asXUTs could modulate the expression of their paired-sense genes when it exceeds a critical threshold, using a conserved mechanism independent of RNAi.

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