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Genes Dev. 2004 Jun 1;18(11):1251-62. Epub 2004 May 14.

A silencing pathway to induce H3-K9 and H4-K20 trimethylation at constitutive heterochromatin.

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  • 1Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), The Vienna Biocenter, A-1030 Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

Histone lysine methylation is a central modification to mark functionally distinct chromatin regions. In particular, H3-K9 trimethylation has emerged as a hallmark of pericentric heterochromatin in mammals. Here we show that H4-K20 trimethylation is also focally enriched at pericentric heterochromatin. Intriguingly, H3-K9 trimethylation by the Suv39h HMTases is required for the induction of H4-K20 trimethylation, although the H4 Lys 20 position is not an intrinsic substrate for these enzymes. By using a candidate approach, we identified Suv4-20h1 and Suv4-20h2 as two novel SET domain HMTases that localize to pericentric heterochromatin and specifically act as nucleosomal H4-K20 trimethylating enzymes. Interaction of the Suv4-20h enzymes with HP1 isoforms suggests a sequential mechanism to establish H3-K9 and H4-K20 trimethylation at pericentric heterochromatin. Heterochromatic H4-K20 trimethylation is evolutionarily conserved, and in Drosophila, the Suv4-20 homolog is a novel PEV modifier to regulate position-effect variegation. Together, our data indicate a function for H4-K20 trimethylation in gene silencing and further suggest H3-K9 and H4-K20 trimethylation as important components of a repressive pathway that can index pericentric heterochromatin.

PMID:
15145825
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC420351
Free PMC Article

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