Reading between the Lines: "ADD"-ing Histone and DNA Methylation Marks toward a New Epigenetic "Sum"

ACS Chem Biol. 2016 Mar 18;11(3):554-63. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.5b00830. Epub 2015 Dec 7.


Covalent modifications of both DNA and histones act in concert to define the landscape of our epigenome. In this review, we explore the interconnections between histone and DNA modifications by focusing on a conserved chromatin-binding regulatory domain, the ATRX-DNMT3-DNMT3L (ADD) domain. New studies show that the ADD domain is capable of sensing, and therefore integrating, the status of multiple histone modifications. This in turn dictates the in vivo localization or allosteric regulation of the full-length ADD-containing protein and its ability to function in downstream chromatin remodeling events. Strategies to re-engineer the ADD "reader pocket" in the de novo DNA methyltransferase DNMT3A such that it redirects this "writer" to new genomic loci proved useful in understanding important biological downstream consequences of mis-targeting of DNA methylation via altered reading of histone marks. Combined with genome-editing tools, this approach stands as a poof-of-principle and will be broadly applicable to the elucidation of epigenetic networks that have been altered by "reader" mutations, either artificially or as naturally occurs in some human diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly
  • DNA Methylation / physiology*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology*
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Histones