The transcription factor Pdx1 is crucial to islet β cell function and regulates target genes in part through interaction with coregulatory factors. Set7/9 is a Lys methyltransferase that interacts with Pdx1. Here we tested the hypothesis that Lys methylation of Pdx1 by Set7/9 augments Pdx1 transcriptional activity. Using mass spectrometry and mutational analysis of purified proteins, we found that Set7/9 methylates the N-terminal residues Lys-123 and Lys-131 of Pdx1. Methylation of these residues occurred only in the context of intact, full-length Pdx1, suggesting a specific requirement of secondary and/or tertiary structural elements for catalysis by Set7/9. Immunoprecipitation assays and mass spectrometric analysis using β cells verified Lys methylation of endogenous Pdx1. Cell-based luciferase reporter assays using wild-type and mutant transgenes revealed a requirement of Pdx1 residue Lys-131, but not Lys-123, for transcriptional augmentation by Set7/9. Lys-131 was not required for high-affinity interactions with DNA in vitro, suggesting that its methylation likely enhances post-DNA binding events. To define the role of Set7/9 in β cell function, we generated mutant mice in which the gene encoding Set7/9 was conditionally deleted in β cells (SetΔβ). SetΔβ mice exhibited glucose intolerance similar to Pdx1-deficient mice, and their isolated islets showed impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion with reductions in expression of Pdx1 target genes. Our results suggest a previously unappreciated role for Set7/9-mediated methylation in the maintenance of Pdx1 activity and β cell function.

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Published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, v. 290, no. 15, p. 9812-9822.

This research was originally published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Aarthi V. Maganti, Bernhard Maier, Sarah A. Tersey, Megan L. Sampley, Amber L. Mosley, Sabire Özcan, Boobalan Pachaiyappan, Patrick M. Woster, Chad S. Hunter, Roland Stein, and Raghavendra G. Mirmira. Transcriptional Activity of the Islet β Cell Factor Pdx1 Is Augmented by Lysine Methylation Catalyzed by the Methyltransferase Set7/9. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2015; 290:9812-9822. © the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

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This work was supported, in whole or in part, by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 DK083583 and R01 DK060581 (to R. G. M.) and R01 CA149095 (to P. M. W.). This work was also supported by an American Diabetes Association junior faculty award (to S. A. T.).