PRDM proteins have emerged as important regulators of disease and developmental processes. To gain insight into the mechanistic actions of the PRDM family, we have performed comprehensive characterization of a prototype member protein, the histone methyltransferase PRDM9, using biochemical, biophysical and chemical biology techniques. In the present paper we report the first known molecular characterization of a PRDM9-methylated recombinant histone octamer and the identification of new histone substrates for the enzyme. A single C321P mutant of the PR/SET domain was demonstrated to significantly weaken PRDM9 activity. Additionally, we have optimized a robust biochemical assay amenable to high-throughput screening to facilitate the generation of small-molecule chemical probes for this protein family. The present study has provided valuable insight into the enzymology of an intrinsically active PRDM protein.

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