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Chembiochem. 2011 Jan 24;12(2):254-63. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201000545. Epub 2011 Jan 5.

Structure and function of histone H3 lysine 9 methyltransferases and demethylases.

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University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Biological Chemistry, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Histone lysine methylation is a dynamic chromatin modification that plays key regulatory roles in gene expression and other genomic functions. Methylation of Lys9 in histone H3 (H3K9) is a prominent modification that has been implicated in diverse processes, including transcriptional silencing, heterochromatin formation, and DNA methylation. In this review, we summarize recent advances in understanding the structure and substrate specificity of the H3K9-specific methyltransferases G9A and GLP and explore current efforts to develop inhibitors of these enzymes. In addition, we discuss the structure and specificity of the recently discovered PHF8 family of histone demethylases that target H3K9 as well as other methylation sites in histones H3 and H4. Finally, we conclude by comparing the H3K9 binding modes displayed by these enzymes and examine the relevance of these studies to their biological functions and to structure-based inhibitor design.

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