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Viable and fertile fruit flies in the absence of histone H3.3
Date:11/13/2012

begin to develop from cells without H3.2 but these died in the first larval stage," Hdl continues.

Genes are switched on and off without histone modification

Histones are modified by different enzymes at different points in the protein. In a second experiment, Basler and Hdl examined the importance of modifications of the fourth amino acid of the protein, a lysine. Modification of this lysine is thought to play a key role in activating and deactivating the transcription of the gene. To test this, the scientists replaced the lysine with non-modifiable amino acids in all the histone H3 genes. The result was another big surprise. "Cells without this specific histone modification are able to divide normally," explains Basler before adding: "However, they do so considerably more slowly than cells that have not been modified." Therefore, the modification of this lysine is not essential for the activation of the genes.

The results show that the activation of genes and the inheritance of the ability to activate genes work differently than previously assumed. Clearly, the structure of the transcription process is extremely robust. According to Basler, the role of this common histone modification for cell function has been overestimated in recent years.


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Contact: Martina Hdl
martina.hoedl@imls.uzh.ch
41-446-353-115
University of Zurich
Source:Eurekalert  

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