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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Timely double-strand break repair and pathway choice in pericentromeric heterochromatin depend on the histone demethylase dKDM4A.

  • Author(s): Janssen, Aniek
  • Colmenares, Serafin U
  • Lee, Timothy
  • Karpen, Gary H
  • et al.

Repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) must be orchestrated properly within diverse chromatin domains in order to maintain genetic stability. Euchromatin and heterochromatin domains display major differences in histone modifications, biophysical properties, and spatiotemporal dynamics of DSB repair. However, it is unclear whether differential histone-modifying activities are required for DSB repair in these distinct domains. We showed previously that the Drosophila melanogaster KDM4A (dKDM4A) histone demethylase is required for heterochromatic DSB mobility. Here we used locus-specific DSB induction in Drosophila animal tissues and cultured cells to more deeply interrogate the impact of dKDM4A on chromatin changes, temporal progression, and pathway utilization during DSB repair. We found that dKDM4A promotes the demethylation of heterochromatin-associated histone marks at DSBs in heterochromatin but not euchromatin. Most importantly, we demonstrate that dKDM4A is required to complete DSB repair in a timely manner and regulate the relative utilization of homologous recombination (HR) and nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair pathways but exclusively for heterochromatic DSBs. We conclude that the temporal kinetics and pathway utilization during heterochromatic DSB repair depend on dKDM4A-dependent demethylation of heterochromatic histone marks. Thus, distinct pre-existing chromatin states require specialized epigenetic alterations to ensure proper DSB repair.

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