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Nucleic Acids Res. 2002 Sep 1;30(17):3831-8.

Dnmt3L is a transcriptional repressor that recruits histone deacetylase.

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  • 1Free University of Brussels, Faculty of Medicine, Laboratory of Molecular Virology, 808 route de Lennik, 1070 Brussels, Belgium.


The Dnmt3L protein belongs to the Dnmt3 family of DNA methyltransferases by virtue of its sequence homology in the plant homeodomain (PHD)-like motif. Dnmt3L is essential for the establishment of maternal genomic imprints and, given its lack of key methyltransferase motifs, is more likely to act as a regulator of methylation rather than as an enzyme that methylates DNA. Here, we show that Dnmt3L, like Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b, interacts both in vitro and in vivo with the histone deacetylase HDAC1. Consistent with the binding to a deacetylase, Dnmt3L purifies histone deacetylase activity from nuclear extracts. We find that Dnmt3L can repress transcription and that this repression is dependent on HDAC1 and is relieved by treatment with the HDAC inhibitor trichostatin A. Binding of Dnmt3L to HDAC1 as well as its repressive function require the PHD-like motif. Our results indicate that Dnmt3L plays a role in transcriptional regulation and that recruitment of the HDAC repressive machinery is a shared and conserved feature of the Dnmt3 family. The fact that, despite the absence of a methyltransferase domain, Dnmt3L retains the capacity to contact deacetylase further substantiates the notion that the Dnmts can repress transcription independently of their methylating activities.

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