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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Dec 10;99 Suppl 4:16462-9. Epub 2002 Jul 31.

Does heterochromatin protein 1 always follow code?

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) is a conserved chromosomal protein that participates in chromatin packaging and gene silencing. A loss of HP1 leads to lethality in Drosophila and correlates with metastasis in human breast cancer cells. On Drosophila polytene chromosomes HP1 is localized to centric regions, telomeric regions, in a banded pattern along the fourth chromosome, and at many sites scattered throughout the euchromatic arms. Recently, one mechanism of HP1 chromosome association was revealed; the amino-terminal chromo domain of HP1 interacts with methylated lysine nine of histone H3, consistent with the histone code hypothesis. Compelling data support this mechanism of HP1 association at centric regions. Is this the only mechanism by which HP1 associates with chromosomes? Interest is now shifting toward the role of HP1 within euchromatic domains. Accumulating evidence in Drosophila and mammals suggests that HP1 associates with chromosomes through interactions with nonhistone chromosomal proteins at locations other than centric heterochromatin. Does HP1 play a similar role in chromatin packaging and gene regulation at these sites as it does in centric heterochromatin? Does HP1 associate with the same proteins at these sites as it does in centric heterochromatin? A first step toward answering these questions is the identification of sequences associated with HP1 within euchromatic domains. Such sequences are likely to include HP1 "target genes" whose discovery will aid in our understanding of HP1 lethality in Drosophila and metastasis of breast cancer cells.

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