Regulation of centromeric heterochromatin in the cell cycle by phosphorylation of histone H3 tyrosine 41

  • Bingbing Ren
  • Ee Sin ChenEmail author


Constitutive heterochromatin packages long stretches of repetitive DNA sequences at the centromere and telomere, and ensures genomic integrity at these loci by preventing aberrant recombination and transcription. The chromatin scaffold of heterochromatin is dynamically regulated in the cell cycle, and inheritance of the epigenetically silenced state is dependent on a transcriptional event imposed on the underlying non-coding RNA in conjunction with the DNA replicative phase. Heterochromatin becomes transiently loosened in response to a reduction in the binding of Swi6, a heterochromatin protein, and this allows RNA polymerase II access to the underlying sequence. The derived transcripts, in turn, drive heterochromatin formation via the recruitment of other silencing factors. It remains unclear how heterochromatin becomes decompacted in a cell cycle-specific manner. Here, we describe a mechanism of heterochromatin decompaction initiated by a novel histone modification, histone H3 tyrosine 41 phosphorylation (H3Y41p). We will discuss how H3Y41p cooperates with other regulatory pathways to enforce cell cycle-dependent regulation of constitutive heterochromatin.


H3Y41 phosphorylation Heterochromatin Chromodomain Fission yeast Cell cycle Centromere Non-coding RNA 



We thank members of the Chen Lab for discussion; Rebecca Jackson and Hugh P. Cam for editing the manuscript. This work was supported by a Singapore Ministry of Education Tier 1 Grant (R-183-000-389-112).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryNational University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of MedicineSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.National University Health System (NUHS)SingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.NUS Synthetic Biology for Clinical and Technological Innovation (SynCTI), Life Sciences InstituteNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and EngineeringNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  5. 5.Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale, CAS Key Laboratory of Innate Immunity and Chronic Disease, School of Life SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina

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