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Mol Cell. 2006 Oct 20;24(2):309-16.

PTMs on H3 variants before chromatin assembly potentiate their final epigenetic state.

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CNRS UMR 218, Institut Curie, Paris 75248, France.


Histone posttranslational modifications (PTMs) and sequence variants regulate genome function. Although accumulating evidence links particular PTM patterns with specific genomic loci, our knowledge concerning where and when these PTMs are imposed remains limited. Here, we find that lysine methylation is absent prior to histone incorporation into chromatin, except at H3K9. Nonnucleosomal H3.1 and H3.3 show distinct enrichments in H3K9me, such that H3.1 contains more K9me1 than H3.3. In addition, H3.3 presents other modifications, including K9/K14 diacetylated and K9me2. Importantly, H3K9me3 was undetectable in both nonnucleosomal variants. Notably, initial modifications on H3 variants can potentiate the action of enzymes as exemplified with Suv39HMTase to produce H3K9me3 as found in pericentric heterochromatin. Although the set of initial modifications present on H3.1 is permissive for further modifications, in H3.3 a subset cannot be K9me3. Thus, initial modifications impact final PTMs within chromatin.

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