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Mol Cell. 2006 Jun 9;22(5):693-9.

Phosphorylation of the linker histone H1 by CDK regulates its binding to HP1alpha.

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The Breast Center, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Two key components of mammalian heterochromatin that play a structural role in higher order chromatin organization are the heterochromatin protein 1alpha (HP1alpha) and the linker histone H1. Here, we show that these proteins interact in vivo and in vitro through their hinge and C-terminal domains, respectively. The phosphorylation of H1 by CDK2, which is required for efficient cell cycle progression, disrupts this interaction. We propose that phosphorylation of H1 provides a signal for the disassembly of higher order chromatin structures during interphase, independent of histone H3-lysine 9 (H3-K9) methylation, by reducing the affinity of HP1alpha for heterochromatin.

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