Sugimura K, Fukushima Y, Ishida M, Ito S, Nakamura M, Mori Y, Okumura K
In mammals, DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mark that is associated with gene silencing, particularly in constitutive heterochromatin. However, the effect of DNA methylation on other epigenetic properties of chromatin is controversial. In this study, we show that inhibition of DNA methylation in mouse fibroblast cells affects histone modification and the subnuclear localization of histone H3.3 in a cell cycle-dependent manner. Using a DNA methyltransferase (Dnmt) inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC), we found that reduced levels of DNA methylation were associated with the activation of transcription from centromeric and pericentromeric satellite repeats. The de-repressed pericentromeric chromatin was enriched in euchromatic histone modifications such as acetylation of histone H4, and di- and tri-methylation of lysine 4 on histone H3. Spatio-temporal analysis showed that the accumulation of these euchromatic histone modifications occurred during the second S phase following 5-aza-dC treatment, corresponding precisely with a shift in replication timing of the pericentromeric satellite repeats from middle/late S phase to early S phase. Moreover, we found that histone H3.3 was deposited on the pericentromeric heterochromatin prior to the accumulation of the euchromatic histone modifications. These results suggest that DNA CpG methylation is essential for the proper organization of pericentromeric heterochromatin in differentiated mouse cells.