SUVH1, a Su(var)3-9 family member, promotes the expression of genes targeted by DNA methylation

Shaofang Li, Lin Liu, Shengben Li, Lei Gao, Yuanyuan Zhao, Yun Ju Kim, Xuemei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Transposable elements are found throughout the genomes of all organisms. Repressive marks such as DNA methylation and histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) methylation silence these elements and maintain genome integrity. However, how silencing mechanisms are themselves regulated to avoid the silencing of genes remains unclear. Here, an anti-silencing factor was identified using a forward genetic screen on a reporter line that harbors a LUCIFERASE (LUC) gene driven by a promoter that undergoes DNA methylation. SUVH1, a Su(var)3-9 homolog, was identified as a factor promoting the expression of the LUC gene. Treatment with a cytosine methylation inhibitor completely suppressed the LUC expression defects of suvh1, indicating that SUVH1 is dispensable for LUC expression in the absence of DNA methylation. SUVH1 also promotes the expression of several endogenous genes with promoter DNA methylation. However, the suvh1 mutation did not alter DNA methylation levels at the LUC transgene or on a genome-wide scale; thus, SUVH1 functions downstream of DNA methylation. Histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) trimethylation was reduced in suvh1; in contrast, H3K9 methylation levels remained unchanged. This work has uncovered a novel, anti-silencing function for a member of the Su(var)3-9 family that has previously been associated with silencing through H3K9 methylation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-620
Number of pages13
JournalNucleic acids research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 29

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


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