Posukh O. V. et al.
In eukaryotes, heterochromatin replicates late in S phase of the cell cycle and contains specific covalent modifications of histones. SuUR mutation found in Drosophila makes heterochromatin replicate earlier than in wild type and reduces the level of repressive histone modifications. SUUR protein was shown to be associated with moving replication forks, apparently through the interaction with PCNA. The biological process underlying the effects of SUUR on replication and composition of heterochromatin remains unknown.
Here we performed a functional dissection of SUUR protein effects on H3K27me3 level. Using hidden Markow model-based algorithm we revealed SuUR-sensitive chromosomal regions that demonstrated unusual characteristics: They do not contain Polycomb and require SUUR function to sustain H3K27me3 level. We tested the role of SUUR protein in the mechanisms that could affect H3K27me3 histone levels in these regions. We found that SUUR does not affect the initial H3K27me3 pattern formation in embryogenesis or Polycomb distribution in the chromosomes. We also ruled out the possible effect of SUUR on histone genes expression and its involvement in DSB repair.
Obtained results support the idea that SUUR protein contributes to the heterochromatin maintenance during the chromosome replication. A model that explains major SUUR-associated phenotypes is proposed.