N6-Methyladenosine co-transcriptionally directs the demethylation of histone H3K9me2

Nat Genet. 2020 Sep;52(9):870-877. doi: 10.1038/s41588-020-0677-3. Epub 2020 Aug 10.


A dynamic epigenome is critical for appropriate gene expression in development and health1-5. Central to this is the intricate process of transcription6-11, which integrates cellular signaling with chromatin changes, transcriptional machinery and modifications to messenger RNA, such as N6-methyladenosine (m6A), which is co-transcriptionally incorporated. The integration of these aspects of the dynamic epigenome, however, is not well understood mechanistically. Here we show that the repressive histone mark H3K9me2 is specifically removed by the induction of m6A-modified transcripts. We demonstrate that the methyltransferase METTL3/METTL14 regulates H3K9me2 modification. We observe a genome-wide correlation between m6A and occupancy by the H3K9me2 demethylase KDM3B, and we find that the m6A reader YTHDC1 physically interacts with and recruits KDM3B to m6A-associated chromatin regions, promoting H3K9me2 demethylation and gene expression. This study establishes a direct link between m6A and dynamic chromatin modification and provides mechanistic insight into the co-transcriptional interplay between RNA modifications and histone modifications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenosine / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Histones / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • N-methyladenosine
  • Methyltransferases
  • Adenosine