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Mol Cell Biol. 2007 Jan;27(2):453-65. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

HP1 binding to chromatin methylated at H3K9 is enhanced by auxiliary factors.

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  • 1Histone Modifications Group, Adolf-Butenandt Institut, University of Munich, Schillerstrasse 44, 80336 Munich, Germany.


A large portion of the eukaryotic genome is packaged into transcriptionally silent heterochromatin. Several factors that play important roles during the establishment and maintenance of this condensed form have been identified. Methylation of lysine 9 within histone H3 and the subsequent binding of the chromodomain protein heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) are thought to initiate heterochromatin formation in vivo and to propagate a heterochromatic state lasting through several cell divisions. For the present study we analyzed the binding of HP1 to methylated chromatin in a fully reconstituted system. In contrast to its strong binding to methylated peptides, HP1 binds only weakly to methylated chromatin. However, the addition of recombinant SU(VAR) protein, such as ACF1 or SU(VAR)3-9, facilitates HP1 binding to chromatin methylated at lysine 9 within the H3 N terminus (H3K9). We propose that HP1 has multiple target sites that contribute to its recognition of chromatin, only one of them being methylated at H3K9. These findings have implications for the mechanisms of recognition of specific chromatin modifications in vivo.

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