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EMBO Rep. 2008 Jun;9(6):555-62. doi: 10.1038/embor.2008.67. Epub 2008 May 2.

Atrophin recruits HDAC1/2 and G9a to modify histone H3K9 and to determine cell fates.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


Atrophin family proteins, including the vertebrate arginine-glutamic acid dipeptide repeats protein (RERE) and Drosophila Atrophin (Atro), constitute a new class of nuclear receptor corepressors. Both RERE and Atro share the ELM2 (EGL-27 and MTA1 homology 2) and SANT (SWI3/ADA2/N-CoR/TFIII-B) domains, which are also present in other important transcriptional cofactors. Here, we report that the SANT domain in RERE binds to the histone methyltransferase G9a, and that both the ELM2 and SANT domains orchestrate molecular events that lead to a stable methylation of histone H3-lysine 9. We establish the physiological relevance of these interactions among Atrophin, G9a, and histone deacetylases 1 and 2 in Drosophila by showing that these proteins localize to overlapping chromosomal loci, and act together to suppress wing vein and melanotic-mass formation. This study not only shows a new function of the SANT domain and establishes its connection with the ELM2 domain, but also implies that a similar strategy is used by other ELM2-SANT proteins to repress gene transcription and to exert biological effects.

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