Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1a in Drosophila) is a conserved eukaryotic chromosomal protein that is prominently associated with pericentric heterochromatin and mediates the concomitant gene silencing. Mechanistic studies implicate HP1 family proteins as 'hub proteins,' able to interact with a variety of chromosomal proteins through the chromo-shadow domain (CSD), as well as to recognize key histone modification sites [primarily histone H3 di/trimethyl Lys9 (H3K9me2/3)] through the chromodomain (CD). Consequently, HP1 has many important roles in chromatin architecture and impacts both gene expression and gene silencing, utilizing a variety of mechanisms. Clearly, HP1 function is altered by context, and potentially by post-translational modifications (PTMs). Here, we report on recent ideas as to how this versatile protein accomplishes its diverse functions.
Keywords: HP1a; chromodomain; gene expression; silencing.
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