We have previously characterised the histone lysine methyltransferase properties of PRDM9, a member of the PRDM family of putative transcriptional regulators. PRDM9 displays broad substrate recognition and methylates a range of histone substrates, including octamers, core histone proteins, and peptides. In the present study, we show that PRDM9 performs intramolecular automethylation on multiple lysine residues localised to a lysine-rich region on the post-SET (suppressor of variegation 3–9, enhancer of zeste and trithorax) domain. PRDM9 automethylation is abolished by a single active-site mutation, C321P, also known to disrupt interactions with S-adenosylmethionine. We have taken an initial step towards tool compound generation through rational design of a substrate-mimic, peptidic inhibitor of PRDM9 automethylation. The discovery of automethylation in PRDM9 adds a new dimension to our understanding of PRDM9 enzymology.

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