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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 17;103(3):574-9. Epub 2006 Jan 5.

Distribution of histone H3.3 in hematopoietic cell lineages.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0540, USA.


We have introduced the histone variant H3.3 into chicken erythroid cell lines and examined its distribution in the neighborhood of the folate receptor (FR) and beta-globin genes by using high-resolution chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). Marked incorporation of tagged H3.3 into the FR gene is confined to its upstream regulatory region and is observed whether or not the gene is transcriptionally active. Incorporation is also observed over locus control regulatory elements in the absence of transcription of genes regulated by these elements, suggesting that gene activity per se is not necessarily required to replace H3 with H3.3. Other active genes display various behaviors, either incorporating H3.3 over both the coding region and upstream regulatory region or over upstream sequences only. There is, however, no straightforward correlation between sites of H3.3 incorporation and regions of enrichment in H3 acetylation and lysine-4 methylation. In the case of FR and VEGF-D, in which incorporation is confined to upstream regions, the presence of exogenous H3 results in reduced expression, whereas H3.3 stimulates expression. This finding suggests that these histone variants can be active rather than passive participants in regulation of expression.

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