MCM2 promotes symmetric inheritance of modified histones during DNA replication

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Science  28 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6409, pp. 1389-1392
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau0294

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How cells ensure symmetric inheritance

Parental histones with modifications are recycled to newly replicated DNA strands during genome replication, but do the two sister chromatids inherit modified histones equally? Yu et al. and Petryk et al. found in mouse and yeast, respectively, that modified histones are segregated to both DNA daughter strands in a largely symmetric manner (see the Perspective by Ahmad and Henikoff). However, the mechanisms ensuring this symmetric inheritance in yeast and mouse were different. Yeasts use subunits of DNA polymerase to prevent the lagging-strand bias of parental histones, whereas in mouse cells, the replicative helicase MCM2 counters the leading-strand bias.

Science, this issue p. 1386, p. 1389; see also p. 1311


During genome replication, parental histones are recycled to newly replicated DNA with their posttranslational modifications (PTMs). Whether sister chromatids inherit modified histones evenly remains unknown. We measured histone PTM partition to sister chromatids in embryonic stem cells. We found that parental histones H3-H4 segregate to both daughter DNA strands with a weak leading-strand bias, skewing partition at topologically associating domain (TAD) borders and enhancers proximal to replication initiation zones. Segregation of parental histones to the leading strand increased markedly in cells with histone-binding mutations in MCM2, part of the replicative helicase, exacerbating histone PTM sister chromatid asymmetry. This work reveals how histones are inherited to sister chromatids and identifies a mechanism by which the replication machinery ensures symmetric cell division.

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