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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1993 May 28;1173(2):209-16.

Inhibition of CpG methylation in linker DNA by H1 histone.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Biochimiche A. Rossi Fanelli, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Italy.


H1 exerts a specific in vitro inhibitory effect on enzymic DNA methylation. The experiments reported in this paper were undertaken in order to assess whether the lower methylation level found in internucleosomal DNA compared to core DNA is the in vivo consequence of the well-known localization of this histone in the linker region, as opposed to a possible deficiency of CpG dinucleotides in linker DNA. The methyl-accepting ability of H1-depleted oligonucleosomes from human placenta and of the corresponding core particles were assayed by addition of purified DNA methyltransferase, using S-adenosylmethionine as the methyl group donor. We have found that approx. 80% of newly-incorporated methyl groups are localized in linker DNA, which is indeed a good potential substrate for enzymic DNA methylation. Addition of quasi-physiological amounts of H1 to H1-depleted oligonucleosomes markedly reduced their methyl-accepting ability, while exerting a re-condensing effect on these particles, as revealed by the distortions of their circular dichroism spectra.

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