Engineering of a Histone-Recognition Domain in Dnmt3a Alters the Epigenetic Landscape and Phenotypic Features of Mouse ESCs.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Mol Cell, Volume 59, Issue 1, p.89-103 (2015)


Animals, Cell Differentiation, DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases, DNA Helicases, DNA Methylation, Embryonic Stem Cells, Histones, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mitosis, Nuclear Proteins, Phosphorylation, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Protein Engineering, Protein Structure, Tertiary, X-linked Nuclear Protein


<p>Histone modification and DNA methylation are associated with varying epigenetic "landscapes," but detailed mechanistic and functional links between the two remain unclear. Using the ATRX-DNMT3-DNMT3L (ADD) domain of the DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a as a paradigm, we apply protein engineering to dissect the molecular interactions underlying the recruitment of this enzyme to specific regions of chromatin in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). By rendering the ADD domain insensitive to histone modification, specifically H3K4 methylation or H3T3 phosphorylation, we demonstrate the consequence of dysregulated Dnmt3a binding and activity. Targeting of a Dnmt3a mutant to H3K4me3 promoters decreases gene expression in a subset of developmental genes and alters ESC differentiation, whereas aberrant binding of another mutant to H3T3ph during mitosis promotes chromosome instability. Our studies support the general view that histone modification "reading" and DNA methylation are closely coupled in mammalian cells, and suggest an avenue for the functional assessment of chromatin-associated proteins.</p>