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p53 and TDG are dominant in regulating the activity of the human de novo DNA methyltransferase DNMT3A on nucleosomes.

  • Author(s): Sandoval, Jonathan E
  • Reich, Norbert O
  • et al.

DNA methylation and histone tail modifications are interrelated mechanisms involved in a wide range of biological processes, and disruption of this crosstalk is linked to diseases such as acute myeloid leukemia. In addition, DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) activity is modulated by several regulatory proteins, including p53 and thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG). However, the relative role of histone tails and regulatory proteins in the simultaneous coordination of DNMT3A activity remains obscure. We observed that DNMT3A binds H3 tails and p53 or TDG at distinct allosteric sites to form DNMT3A-H3 tail-p53 or -TDG multiprotein complexes. Functional characterization of DNMT3A-H3 tail-p53 or -TDG complexes on human-derived synthetic histone H3 tails, mononucleosomes, or polynucleosomes shows p53 and TDG play dominant roles in the modulation of DNMT3A activity. Intriguingly, this dominance occurs even when DNMT3A is actively methylating nucleosome substrates. The activity of histone modifiers is influenced by their ability to sense modifications on histone tails within the same nucleosome or histone tails on neighboring nucleosomes. In contrast, we show here that DNMT3A acts on DNA within a single nucleosome, on nucleosomal DNA within adjacent nucleosomes, and DNA not associated with the DNMT3A-nucleosome complex. Our findings have direct bearing on how the histone code drives changes in DNA methylation and highlight the complex interplay between histone tails, epigenetic enzymes, and modulators of enzymatic activity.

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