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Epigenetic rewriting at centromeric DNA repeats leads to increased chromatin accessibility and chromosomal instability
Epigenetics & Chromatin  (IF4.954),  Pub Date : 2021-07-28, DOI: 10.1186/s13072-021-00410-x
Sheldon Decombe, François Loll, Laura Caccianini, Kévin Affannoukoué, Ignacio Izeddin, Julien Mozziconacci, Christophe Escudé, Judith Lopes

Centromeric regions of human chromosomes contain large numbers of tandemly repeated α-satellite sequences. These sequences are covered with constitutive heterochromatin which is enriched in trimethylation of histone H3 on lysine 9 (H3K9me3). Although well studied using artificial chromosomes and global perturbations, the contribution of this epigenetic mark to chromatin structure and genome stability remains poorly known in a more natural context. Using transcriptional activator-like effectors (TALEs) fused to a histone lysine demethylase (KDM4B), we were able to reduce the level of H3K9me3 on the α-satellites repeats of human chromosome 7. We show that the removal of H3K9me3 affects chromatin structure by increasing the accessibility of DNA repeats to the TALE protein. Tethering TALE-demethylase to centromeric repeats impairs the recruitment of HP1α and proteins of Chromosomal Passenger Complex (CPC) on this specific centromere without affecting CENP-A loading. Finally, the epigenetic re-writing by the TALE-KDM4B affects specifically the stability of chromosome 7 upon mitosis, highlighting the importance of H3K9me3 in centromere integrity and chromosome stability, mediated by the recruitment of HP1α and the CPC. Our cellular model allows to demonstrate the direct role of pericentromeric H3K9me3 epigenetic mark on centromere integrity and function in a natural context and opens interesting possibilities for further studies regarding the role of the H3K9me3 mark.