Trimethylated lysine 9 of histone H3 is a mark for DNA methylation in Neurospora crassa

Nat Genet. 2003 May;34(1):75-9. doi: 10.1038/ng1143.


Besides serving to package nuclear DNA, histones carry information in the form of a diverse array of post-translational modifications. Methylation of histones H3 and H4 has been implicated in long-term epigenetic 'memory'. Dimethylation or trimethylation of Lys4 of histone H3 (H3 Lys4) has been found in expressible euchromatin of yeasts and mammals. In contrast, methylation of Lys9 of histone H3 (H3 Lys9) has been implicated in establishing and maintaining the largely quiescent heterochromatin of mammals, yeasts, Drosophila melanogaster and plants. We have previously shown that a DNA methylation mutant of Neurospora crassa, dim-5 (defective in methylation), has a nonsense mutation in the SET domain of an H3-specific histone methyltransferase and that substitutions of H3 Lys9 cause gross hypomethylation of DNA. Similarly, the KRYPTONITE histone methyltransferase is required for full DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana. We used biochemical, genetic and immunological methods to investigate the specific mark for DNA methylation in N. crassa. Here we show that trimethylated H3 Lys9, but not dimethylated H3 Lys9, marks chromatin regions for cytosine methylation and that DIM-5 specifically creates this mark.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA, Fungal / chemistry*
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal / metabolism*
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histones / chemistry*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Lysine / chemistry
  • Methylation
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Neurospora crassa / genetics
  • Neurospora crassa / metabolism*
  • Protein Methyltransferases
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • DNA, Fungal
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Histones
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • Methyltransferases
  • Protein Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Lysine