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PLoS Genet. 2015 Mar 20;11(3):e1005083. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005083. eCollection 2015 Mar.

Neurospora importin α is required for normal heterochromatic formation and DNA methylation.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, United States of America.


Heterochromatin and associated gene silencing processes play roles in development, genome defense, and chromosome function. In many species, constitutive heterochromatin is decorated with histone H3 tri-methylated at lysine 9 (H3K9me3) and cytosine methylation. In Neurospora crassa, a five-protein complex, DCDC, catalyzes H3K9 methylation, which then directs DNA methylation. Here, we identify and characterize a gene important for DCDC function, dim-3 (defective in methylation-3), which encodes the nuclear import chaperone NUP-6 (Importin α). The critical mutation in dim-3 results in a substitution in an ARM repeat of NUP-6 and causes a substantial loss of H3K9me3 and DNA methylation. Surprisingly, nuclear transport of all known proteins involved in histone and DNA methylation, as well as a canonical transport substrate, appear normal in dim-3 strains. Interactions between DCDC members also appear normal, but the nup-6(dim-3) allele causes the DCDC members DIM-5 and DIM-7 to mislocalize from heterochromatin and NUP-6dim-3 itself is mislocalized from the nuclear envelope, at least in conidia. GCN-5, a member of the SAGA histone acetyltransferase complex, also shows altered localization in dim-3, raising the possibility that NUP-6 is necessary to localize multiple chromatin complexes following nucleocytoplasmic transport.

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