Currently, the mammalian heterochromatic proteins HP1α, HP1β and the pan-nuclear HP1γ are considered 'gatekeepers' of methyl-K9-H3-mediated silencing. Understanding how the binding of these proteins to post-translationally modified histones is switched on and off will further our knowledge of how the histone code is modulated. Here, we report that all three HP1 isoforms can be extensively modified, similar to histones, suggesting that the silencing of gene expression may be further regulated beyond the histone code. To assess the potential impact of these modifications, we analysed the phosphorylation of HP1γ at Ser 83 as a 'model modification'. We demonstrate that P-Ser 83-HP1γ has an exclusively euchromatic localization, interacts with Ku70 (a regulatory protein involved in multiple nuclear procesess), has impaired silencing activity and serves as a marker for transcription elongation. These observations predict that regulation of silencing by methyl-K9-H3 through modification of mammalian HP1 proteins may be more complex than previously thought and suggests the existence of an HP1-mediated 'silencing subcode' that underlies the instructions of the histone code.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology