Chromatin modifier HUSH co-operates with RNA decay factor NEXT to restrict transposable element expression

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Transposable elements (TEs) are widespread genetic parasites known to be kept under tight transcriptional control. Here, we describe a functional connection between the mouse-orthologous “nuclear exosome targeting” (NEXT) and “human silencing hub” (HUSH) complexes, involved in nuclear RNA decay and the epigenetic silencing of TEs, respectively. Knocking out the NEXT component ZCCHC8 in embryonic stem cells results in elevated TE RNA levels. We identify a physical interaction between ZCCHC8 and the MPP8 protein of HUSH and establish that HUSH recruits NEXT to chromatin at MPP8-bound TE loci. However, while NEXT and HUSH both dampen TE RNA expression, their activities predominantly affect shorter non-polyadenylated and full-length polyadenylated transcripts, respectively. Indeed, our data suggest that the repressive action of HUSH promotes a condition favoring NEXT RNA decay activity. In this way, transcriptional and post-transcriptional machineries synergize to suppress the genotoxic potential of TE RNAs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1691-1707.e8
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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    Research areas

  • HUSH complex, NEXT complex, retrotransposons, RNA decay, RNA exosome, transposable elements

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