Differential enrichment of H3K9me3 at annotated satellite DNA repeats in human cell lines and during fetal development in mouse

Epigenetics Chromatin. 2021 Oct 18;14(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s13072-021-00423-6.


Background: Trimethylation of histone H3 on lysine 9 (H3K9me3) at satellite DNA sequences has been primarily studied at (peri)centromeric regions, where its level shows differences associated with various processes such as development and malignant transformation. However, the dynamics of H3K9me3 at distal satellite DNA repeats has not been thoroughly investigated.

Results: We exploit the sets of publicly available data derived from chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with massively parallel DNA sequencing (ChIP-Seq), produced by the The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, to analyze H3K9me3 at assembled satellite DNA repeats in genomes of human cell lines and during mouse fetal development. We show that annotated satellite elements are generally enriched for H3K9me3, but its level in cancer cell lines is on average lower than in normal cell lines. We find 407 satellite DNA instances with differential H3K9me3 enrichment between cancer and normal cells including a large 115-kb cluster of GSATII elements on chromosome 12. Differentially enriched regions are not limited to satellite DNA instances, but instead encompass a wider region of flanking sequences. We found no correlation between the levels of H3K9me3 and noncoding RNA at corresponding satellite DNA loci. The analysis of data derived from multiple tissues identified 864 instances of satellite DNA sequences in the mouse reference genome that are differentially enriched between fetal developmental stages.

Conclusions: Our study reveals significant differences in H3K9me3 level at a subset of satellite repeats between biological states and as such contributes to understanding of the role of satellite DNA repeats in epigenetic regulation during development and carcinogenesis.

Keywords: Cell lines; ChIP-Seq; Development; Epigenetics; H3K9me3; Heterochromatin; Histone marks; Human genome; Mouse genome; Satellite DNA.