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J Cell Biol. 2007 Jan 15;176(2):155-62.

Aberrant monomethylation of histone H4 lysine 20 activates the DNA damage checkpoint in Drosophila melanogaster.

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  • 1Waksman Institute, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


PR-Set7 is a histone methyltransferase that specifically monomethylates histone H4 lysine 20 (K20) and is essential for cell proliferation. Our results show that in PR-Set7 mutants, the DNA damage checkpoint is activated. This phenotype is manifested by reduction in both the mitotic and the S phase indexes, a delay in the progression through early mitosis, and strong reduction of cyclin B. Furthermore, in a double mutant of PR-Set7 and mei-41 (the fly ATR orthologue), the abnormalities of mitotic progression and the cyclin B protein level were rescued. PR-Set7 also showed a defect in chromosome condensation that was enhanced in the double mutant. We therefore propose that monomethylated H4K20 is involved in the maintenance of proper higher order structure of DNA and is consequently essential for chromosome condensation.

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