Pericentric heterochromatin plays an important role in epigenetic gene regulation. We show that pericentric heterochromatin aggregates during myogenic differentiation. This clustering leads to the formation of large chromocenters and correlates with increased levels of the methyl CpG-binding protein MeCP2 and pericentric DNA methylation. Ectopic expression of fluorescently tagged MeCP2 mimicked this effect, causing a dose-dependent clustering of chromocenters in the absence of differentiation. MeCP2-induced rearrangement of heterochromatin occurred throughout interphase, did not depend on the H3K9 histone methylation pathway, and required the methyl CpG-binding domain (MBD) only. Similar to MeCP2, another methyl CpG-binding protein, MBD2, also increased during myogenic differentiation and could induce clustering of pericentric regions, arguing for functional redundancy. This MeCP2- and MBD2-mediated chromatin reorganization may thus represent a molecular link between nuclear genome topology and the epigenetic maintenance of cellular differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology