Single substitution in H3.3G34 alters DNMT3A recruitment to cause progressive neurodegeneration

Cell. 2023 Mar 16;186(6):1162-1178.e20. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2023.02.023.


Germline histone H3.3 amino acid substitutions, including H3.3G34R/V, cause severe neurodevelopmental syndromes. To understand how these mutations impact brain development, we generated H3.3G34R/V/W knock-in mice and identified strikingly distinct developmental defects for each mutation. H3.3G34R-mutants exhibited progressive microcephaly and neurodegeneration, with abnormal accumulation of disease-associated microglia and concurrent neuronal depletion. G34R severely decreased H3K36me2 on the mutant H3.3 tail, impairing recruitment of DNA methyltransferase DNMT3A and its redistribution on chromatin. These changes were concurrent with sustained expression of complement and other innate immune genes possibly through loss of non-CG (CH) methylation and silencing of neuronal gene promoters through aberrant CG methylation. Complement expression in G34R brains may lead to neuroinflammation possibly accounting for progressive neurodegeneration. Our study reveals that H3.3G34-substitutions have differential impact on the epigenome, which underlie the diverse phenotypes observed, and uncovers potential roles for H3K36me2 and DNMT3A-dependent CH-methylation in modulating synaptic pruning and neuroinflammation in post-natal brains.

Keywords: CH methylation; DNA methylation; DNMT3A; H3.3 G34R/V/W; H3K36me2; complement; neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation; oncohistones; synaptic pruning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • DNA Methylation / genetics
  • DNA Methyltransferase 3A*
  • DNA Modification Methylases / genetics
  • Histones* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases


  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases
  • DNA Methyltransferase 3A
  • DNA Modification Methylases
  • Histones
  • Dnmt3a protein, mouse