Replication of heterochromatin: insights into mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance.
ABSTRACT Heterochromatin is composed of tightly condensed chromatin in which the histones are deacetylated and methylated, and specific nonhistone proteins are bound. Additionally, in vertebrates and plants, the DNA within heterochromatin is methylated. As the heterochromatic state is stably inherited, replication of heterochromatin requires not only duplication of the DNA but also a reinstallment of the appropriate protein and DNA modifications. Thus replication of heterochromatin provides a framework for understanding mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance. In recent studies, roles have been identified for replication factors in reinstating heterochromatin, particularly functions for origin recognition complex, proliferating cell nuclear antigen, and chromatin-assembly factor 1 in recruiting the heterochromatin binding protein HP1, a histone methyltransferase, a DNA methyltransferase, and a chromatin remodeling complex. Potential mechanistic links between these factors are discussed. In some cells, replication of the heterochromatin is blocked, and in Drosophila this inhibition is mediated by a chromatin binding protein SuUR.
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ABSTRACT: Position-effect variegation (PEV) phenotypes are characterized by the robust multigenerational repression of a gene located at a certain locus (often called gene silencing) and occasional conversions to fully active state. Consequently, the active state then persists with occasional conversions to the repressed state. These effects are mediated by the establishment and maintenance of heterochromatin or euchromatin structures, respectively. In this study, we have addressed an important but often neglected aspect of PEV: the frequency of conversions at such loci. We have developed a model and have projected various PEV scenarios based on various rates of conversions. We have also enhanced two existing assays for gene silencing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to measure the rate of switches from repressed to active state and vice versa. We tested the validity of our methodology in Δsir1 cells and in several mutants with defects in gene silencing. The assays have revealed that the histone chaperone Chromatin Assembly Factor I is involved in the control of epigenetic conversions. Together, our model and assays provide a comprehensive methodology for further investigation of epigenetic stability and position effects.Nucleic Acids Research 07/2013; · 8.81 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Position effect variegation (PEV) refers to quasi-stable patterns of gene expression that are observed at specific loci throughout the genomes of eukaryotes. The genes subjected to PEV can be completely silenced or fully active. Stochastic conversions between these 2 states are responsible for the variegated phenotypes. Positional variegation is used by human pathogens (Trypanosoma, Plasmodium, and Candida) to evade the immune system or adapt to the host environment. In the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S accharomyces pombe, telomeric PEV aids the adaptation to a changing environment. In metazoans, similar epigenetic conversions are likely to accompany cell differentiation and the setting of tissue-specific gene expression programs. Surprisingly, we know very little about the mechanisms of epigenetic conversions. In this article, earlier models on the nature of PEV are revisited and recent advances on the dynamic nature of chromatin are reviewed. The normal dynamic histone turnover during transcription and DNA replication and its perturbation at transcription and replication pause sites are discussed. It is proposed that such perturbations play key roles in epigenetic conversions and in PEV.Biochemistry and Cell Biology 02/2013; 91(1):6-13. · 2.92 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The remarkable ability of many parasites to evade host immunity is the key to their success and pervasiveness. The immune evasion is directly linked to the silencing of the members of extended families of genes that encode for major parasite antigens. At any time only one of these genes is active. Infrequent switches to other members of the gene family help the parasites elude the immune system and cause prolonged maladies. For most pathogens, the detailed mechanisms of gene silencing and switching are poorly understood. On the other hand, studies in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have revealed similar mechanisms of gene repression and switching and have provided significant insights into the molecular basis of these phenomena. This information is becoming increasingly relevant to the genetics of the parasites. Here we summarize recent advances in parasite epigenetics and emphasize the similarities between S. cerevisiae and pathogens such as Plasmodium, Trypanosoma, Candida, and Pneumocystis. We also outline current challenges in the control and the treatment of the diseases caused by these parasites and link them to epigenetics and the wealth of knowledge acquired from budding yeast.Epigenetics & Chromatin 11/2013; 6(1):40. · 4.19 Impact Factor