Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) is a conserved non-histone chromosomal protein enriched in heterochromatin. On Drosophila polytene chromosomes, HP1 localizes to centric and telomeric regions, along the fourth chromosome, and to specific sites within euchromatin. HP1 associates with centric regions through an interaction with methylated lysine nine of histone H3, a modification generated by the histone methyltransferase SU(VAR)3-9. This association correlates with a closed chromatin configuration and silencing of euchromatic genes positioned near heterochromatin. To determine whether HP1 is sufficient to nucleate the formation of silent chromatin at non-centric locations, HP1 was tethered to sites within euchromatic regions of Drosophila chromosomes. At 25 out of 26 sites tested, tethered HP1 caused silencing of a nearby reporter gene. The site that did not support silencing was upstream of an active gene, suggesting that the local chromatin environment did not support the formation of silent chromatin. Silencing correlated with the formation of ectopic fibers between the site of tethered HP1 and other chromosomal sites, some containing HP1. The ability of HP1 to bring distant chromosomal sites into proximity with each other suggests a mechanism for chromatin packaging. Silencing was not dependent on SU(VAR)3-9 dosage, suggesting a bypass of the requirement for histone methylation.
- Gene silencing
- Heterchromatin protein 1 (HP1)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Developmental Biology