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Nat Cell Biol. 2005 Apr;7(4):420-8. Epub 2005 Mar 6.

Role of the RB1 family in stabilizing histone methylation at constitutive heterochromatin.

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Telomeres and Telomerase Group, Molecular Oncology Program, Spanish National Cancer Centre (CNIO), Madrid E-28029, SPAIN.


Here, we show a role for the RB1 family proteins in directing full heterochromatin formation. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts that are triply deficient for RB1 (retinoblastoma 1), RBL1 (retinoblastoma-like 1) and RBL2 (retinoblastoma-like 2) - known as TKO cells - show a marked genomic instability, which is coincidental with decreased DNA methylation, increased acetylation of histone H3 and decreased tri-methylation of histone H4 at lysine 20 (H4K20). Chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that H4K20 tri-methylation was specifically decreased at pericentric and telomeric chromatin. These defects are independent of E2F family function. Indeed, we show a direct interaction between the RB1 proteins and the H4K20 tri-methylating enzymes Suv4-20h1 and Suv4-20h2, indicating that the RB1 family has a role in controlling H4K20 tri-methylation by these histone methyltransferases. These observations indicate that the RB1 family is involved in maintaining overall chromatin structure and, in particular, that of constitutive heterochromatin, linking tumour suppression and the epigenetic definition of chromatin.

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