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Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Feb;39(3):874-88. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq870. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

DNA methyltransferase 3b preferentially associates with condensed chromatin.

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Division of Gene Therapy Science, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-2 Yamada-oka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


In mammals, DNA methylation is catalyzed by DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) encoded by Dnmt1, Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b. Since, the mechanisms of regulation of Dnmts are still largely unknown, the physical interaction between Dnmt3b and chromatin was investigated in vivo and in vitro. In embryonic stem cell nuclei, Dnmt3b preferentially associated with histone H1-containing heterochromatin without any significant enrichment of silent-specific histone methylation. Recombinant Dnmt3b preferentially associated with nucleosomal DNA rather than naked DNA. Incorporation of histone H1 into nucleosomal arrays promoted the association of Dnmt3b with chromatin, whereas histone acetylation reduced Dnmt3b binding in vitro. In addition, Dnmt3b associated with histone deacetylase SirT1 in the nuclease resistant chromatin. These findings suggest that Dnmt3b is preferentially recruited into hypoacetylated and condensed chromatin. We propose that Dnmt3b is a 'reader' of higher-order chromatin structure leading to gene silencing through DNA methylation.

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