Author(s): Brown SE, Szyf M
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Abstract Within the human genome there are hundreds of copies of the rRNA gene, but only a fraction of these genes are active. Silencing through epigenetics has been extensively studied; however, it is essential to understand how active rRNA genes are maintained. Here, we propose a role for the methyl-CpG binding domain protein MBD3 in epigenetically maintaining active rRNA promoters. We show that MBD3 is localized to the nucleolus, colocalizes with upstream binding factor, and binds to unmethylated rRNA promoters. Knockdown of MBD3 by small interfering RNA results in increased methylation of the rRNA promoter coupled with a decrease in RNA polymerase I binding and pre-rRNA transcription. Conversely, overexpression of MBD3 results in decreased methylation of the rRNA promoter. Additionally, overexpression of MBD3 induces demethylation of nonreplicating plasmids containing the rRNA promoter. We demonstrate that this demethylation occurs following the overexpression of MBD3 and its increased interaction with the methylated rRNA promoter. This is the first demonstration that MBD3 is involved in inducing and maintaining the demethylated state of a specific promoter.
This article was published in Mol Cell Biol
and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology