We have purified a human histone H4 lysine 20 methyltransferase and cloned the encoding gene, PR/SET07. A mutation in Drosophila pr-set7 is lethal: second instar larval death coincides with the loss of H4 lysine 20 methylation, indicating a fundamental role for PR-Set7 in development. Transcriptionally competent regions lack H4 lysine 20 methylation, but the modification coincided with condensed chromosomal regions on polytene chromosomes, including chromocenter and euchromatic arms. The Drosophila male X chromosome, which is hyperacetylated at H4 lysine 16, has significantly decreased levels of lysine 20 methylation compared to that of females. In vitro, methylation of lysine 20 and acetylation of lysine 16 on the H4 tail are competitive. Taken together, these results support the hypothesis that methylation of H4 lysine 20 maintains silent chromatin, in part, by precluding neighboring acetylation on the H4 tail.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology