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Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Sep 24;32(17):5019-28. Print 2004.

Lsh, an epigenetic guardian of repetitive elements.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, SAIC-Basic Research Program, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 21701, USA.


The genome is burdened with repetitive sequences that are generally embedded in silenced chromatin. We have previously demonstrated that Lsh (lymphoid-specific helicase) is crucial for the control of heterochromatin at pericentromeric regions consisting of satellite repeats. In this study, we searched for additional genomic targets of Lsh by examining the effects of Lsh deletion on repeat regions and single copy gene sequences. We found that the absence of Lsh resulted in an increased association of acetylated histones with repeat sequences and transcriptional reactivation of their silenced state. In contrast, selected single copy genes displayed no change in histone acetylation levels, and their transcriptional rate was indistinguishable compared to Lsh-deficient cells and wild-type controls. Microarray analysis of total RNA derived from brain and liver tissues revealed that <0.4% of the 15 247 examined loci were abnormally expressed in Lsh-/-embryos and almost two-thirds of these deregulated sequences contained repeats, mainly retroviral LTR (long terminal repeat) elements. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated a direct interaction of Lsh with repetitive sites in the genome. These data suggest that the repetitive sites are direct targets of Lsh action and that Lsh plays an important role as 'epigenetic guardian' of the genome to protect against deregulation of parasitic retroviral elements.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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