SETDB1 is involved in postembryonic DNA methylation and gene silencing in Drosophila

PLoS One. 2010 May 17;5(5):e10581. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010581.


DNA methylation is fundamental for the stability and activity of genomes. Drosophila melanogaster and vertebrates establish a global DNA methylation pattern of their genome during early embryogenesis. Large-scale analyses of DNA methylation patterns have uncovered revealed that DNA methylation patterns are dynamic rather than static and change in a gene-specific fashion during development and in diseased cells. However, the factors and mechanisms involved in dynamic, postembryonic DNA methylation remain unclear. Methylation of lysine 9 in histone H3 (H3-K9) by members of the Su(var)3-9 family of histone methyltransferases (HMTs) triggers embryonic DNA methylation in Arthropods and Chordates. Here, we demonstrate that Drosophila SETDB1 (dSETDB1) can mediate DNA methylation and silencing of genes and retrotransposons. We found that dSETDB1 tri-methylates H3-K9 and binds methylated CpA motifs. Tri-methylation of H3-K9 by dSETDB1 mediates recruitment of DNA methyltransferase 2 (Dnmt2) and Su(var)205, the Drosophila ortholog of mammalian "Heterochromatin Protein 1", to target genes for dSETDB1. By enlisting Dnmt2 and Su(var)205, dSETDB1 triggers DNA methylation and silencing of genes and retrotransposons in Drosophila cells. DSETDB1 is involved in postembryonic DNA methylation and silencing of Rt1b{} retrotransposons and the tumor suppressor gene retinoblastoma family protein 1 (Rb) in imaginal discs. Collectively, our findings implicate dSETDB1 in postembryonic DNA methylation, provide a model for silencing of the tumor suppressor Rb, and uncover a role for cell type-specific DNA methylation in Drosophila development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Retracted Publication

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism*
  • Eye / embryology
  • Eye / metabolism
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Heterochromatin / metabolism
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / metabolism
  • Retroelements / genetics


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Heterochromatin
  • Histones
  • Retinoblastoma Protein
  • Retroelements
  • heterochromatin-specific nonhistone chromosomal protein HP-1
  • Mt2 protein, Drosophila
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • egg protein, Drosophila
  • Lysine