Dynamic and flexible H3K9me3 bridging via HP1β dimerization establishes a plastic state of condensed chromatin

Kyoko Hiragami-Hamada, Szabolcs Soeroes, Miroslav Nikolov, Bryan Wilkins, Sarah Kreuz, Carol Chen, Inti A. De La Rosa-Velázquez, Hans Michael Zenn, Nils Kost, Wiebke Pohl, Aleksandar Chernev, Dirk Schwarzer, Thomas Jenuwein, Matthew Lorincz, Bastian Zimmermann, Peter Jomo Walla, Heinz Neumann, Tuncay Baubec, Henning Urlaub, Wolfgang Fischle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Histone H3 trimethylation of lysine 9 (H3K9me3) and proteins of the heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) family are hallmarks of heterochromatin, a state of compacted DNA essential for genome stability and long-term transcriptional silencing. The mechanisms by which H3K9me3 and HP1 contribute to chromatin condensation have been speculative and controversial. Here we demonstrate that human HP1β is a prototypic HP1 protein exemplifying most basal chromatin binding and effects. These are caused by dimeric and dynamic interaction with highly enriched H3K9me3 and are modulated by various electrostatic interfaces. HP1β bridges condensed chromatin, which we postulate stabilizes the compacted state. In agreement, HP1β genome-wide localization follows H3K9me3-enrichment and artificial bridging of chromatin fibres is sufficient for maintaining cellular heterochromatic conformation. Overall, our findings define a fundamental mechanism for chromatin higher order structural changes caused by HP1 proteins, which might contribute to the plastic nature of condensed chromatin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11310
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - Apr 19 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by a predoctoral fellowship of the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (S.S.), the German Research Society (DFG, SFB 860 to H.U.) and the Max Planck Society (W.F.). T.B. is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (PP00P3-157488).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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