CSL proteins [named after the homologs CBF1 (RBP-Jκ in mice), Suppressor of Hairless and LAG-1] are conserved transcription factors found in animals and fungi. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, they regulate various cellular processes, including cell cycle progression, lipid metabolism and cell adhesion. CSL proteins bind to DNA through their N-terminal Rel-like domain and central β-trefoil domain. Here, we investigated the importance of DNA binding for CSL protein functions in fission yeast. We created CSL protein mutants with disrupted DNA binding and found that the vast majority of CSL protein functions depend on intact DNA binding. Specifically, DNA binding is crucial for the regulation of cell adhesion, lipid metabolism, cell cycle progression, long non-coding RNA expression and genome integrity maintenance. Interestingly, perturbed lipid metabolism leads to chromatin structure changes, potentially linking lipid metabolism to the diverse phenotypes associated with CSL protein functions. Our study highlights the critical role of DNA binding for CSL protein functions in fission yeast.

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