Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Diverse histone modifications on histone 3 lysine 9 and their relation to DNA methylation in specifying gene silencing

Jiejun Wu12, Shu-Huei Wang2, Dustin Potter2, Joseph C Liu2, Laura T Smith2, Yue-Zhong Wu2, Tim H-M Huang2* and Christoph Plass12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Genetics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

2 Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics, Division of Human Cancer Genetics, The Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:131  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-131

Published: 24 May 2007

Abstract

Background

Previous studies of individual genes have shown that in a self-enforcing way, dimethylation at histone 3 lysine 9 (dimethyl-H3K9) and DNA methylation cooperate to maintain a repressive mode of inactive genes. Less clear is whether this cooperation is generalized in mammalian genomes, such as mouse genome. Here we use epigenomic tools to simultaneously interrogate chromatin modifications and DNA methylation in a mouse leukemia cell line, L1210.

Results

Histone modifications on H3K9 and DNA methylation in L1210 were profiled by both global CpG island array and custom mouse promoter array analysis. We used chromatin immunoprecipitation microarray (ChIP-chip) to examine acetyl-H3K9 and dimethyl-H3K9. We found that the relative level of acetyl-H3K9 at different chromatin positions has a wider range of distribution than that of dimethyl-H3K9. We then used differential methylation hybridization (DMH) and the restriction landmark genome scanning (RLGS) to analyze the DNA methylation status of the same targets investigated by ChIP-chip. The results of epigenomic profiling, which have been independently confirmed for individual loci, show an inverse relationship between DNA methylation and histone acetylation in regulating gene silencing. In contrast to the previous notion, dimethyl-H3K9 seems to be less distinct in specifying silencing for the genes tested.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates in L1210 leukemia cells a diverse relationship between histone modifications and DNA methylation in the maintenance of gene silencing. Acetyl-H3K9 shows an inverse relationship between DNA methylation and histone acetylation in regulating gene silencing as expected. However, dimethyl-H3K9 seems to be less distinct in relation to promoter methylation. Meanwhile, a combination of epigenomic tools is of help in understanding the heterogeneity of epigenetic regulation, which may further our vision accumulated from single-gene studies.