R Benetti, S Gonzalo, I Jaco, P Muñoz, S Gonzalez, S Schoeftner, E Murchison, T Andl, T Chen, P Klatt, E Li, M Serrano, S Millar, G Hannon, MA Blasco
Nat Struct Mol Biol
Dicer initiates RNA interference by generating small RNAs involved in various silencing pathways. Dicer participates in centromeric silencing, but its role in the epigenetic regulation of other chromatin domains has not been explored. Here we show that Dicer1 deficiency in Mus musculus leads to decreased DNA methylation, concomitant with increased telomere recombination and telomere elongation. These DNA-methylation defects correlate with decreased expression of Dnmt1, Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b DNA methyltransferases (Dnmts), and methylation levels can be recovered by their overexpression. We identify the retinoblastoma-like 2 protein (Rbl2) as responsible for decreased Dnmt expression in Dicer1-null cells, suggesting the existence of Dicer-dependent small RNAs that target Rbl2. We identify the miR-290 cluster as being downregulated in Dicer1-deficient cells and show that it silences Rbl2, thereby controlling Dnmt expression. These results identify a pathway by which miR-290 directly regulates Rbl2-dependent Dnmt expression, indirectly affecting telomere-length homeostasis.