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Mol Cell. 2004 Feb 13;13(3):427-34.

HP1 is essential for DNA methylation in neurospora.

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Department of Biology and Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403 USA.


Methylation of cytosines silences transposable elements and selected cellular genes in mammals, plants, and some fungi. Recent findings have revealed mechanistic connections between DNA methylation and features of specialized condensed chromatin, "heterochromatin." In Neurospora crassa, DNA methylation depends on trimethylation of Lys9 in histone H3 by DIM-5. Heterochromatin protein HP1 binds methylated Lys9 in vitro. We therefore investigated the possibility that a Neurospora HP1 homolog reads the methyl-Lys9 mark to signal DNA methylation. We identified an HP1 homolog and showed that it is essential for DNA methylation, is localized to heterochromatic foci, and that this localization is dependent on the catalytic activity of DIM-5. We conclude that HP1 serves as an adaptor between methylated H3 Lys9 and the DNA methylation machinery. Unlike mutants that lack DNA methyltransferase, mutants with defects in the HP1 gene hpo exhibit severe growth defects, suggesting that HP1 is required for processes besides DNA methylation.

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