Heterochromatin and tri-methylated lysine 20 of histone H4 in animals

Niki Kourmouli, Peter Jeppesen, Shantha Mahadevhaiah, Paul Burgoyne, Rong Wu, David M Gilbert, Silvia Bongiorni, Giorgio Prantera, Laura Fanti, Sergio Pimpinelli, Wei Shi, Reinald Fundele, Prim B Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Citations (Scopus)


Tri-methylated lysine 20 on histone H4 (Me(3)K20H4) is a marker of constitutive heterochromatin in murine interphase and metaphase cells. Heterochromatin marked by Me(3)K20H4 replicates late during S phase of the cell cycle. Serum starvation increases the number of cells that exhibit high levels of Me(3)K20H4 at constitutive heterochromatin. Me(3)K20H4 is also present at the centromeric heterochromatin of most meiotic chromosomes during spermatogenesis and at the pseudoautosomal region, as well as at some telomeres. It is not present on the XY-body. During murine embryogenesis the maternal pronucleus contains Me(3)K20H4; Me(3)K20H4 is absent from the paternal pronucleus. On Drosophila polytene chromosomes Me(3)K20H4 is present in a 'punctate pattern' at many chromosomal bands, including the chromocenter. In coccids it is present on the facultatively heterochromatinised paternal chromosome set. We also present evidence that Me(3)K20H4 is dependent upon H3-specific Suv(3)9 histone methyltransferase activity, suggesting that there may be 'epigenetic cross-talk' between histones H3 and H4.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2491-501
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue numberPt 12
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2004


  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Centromere
  • Chromosomes
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • DNA
  • Drosophila
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Genetic Markers
  • Hemiptera
  • Heterochromatin
  • Histones
  • Lysine
  • Male
  • Methylation
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Oocytes
  • S Phase
  • Spermatozoa
  • Telomere
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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