Methylation of specific histone lysine residues regulates gene expression and heterochromatin function, but little is known about its role in DNA repair. To examine how changes in conserved methylated residues of histone H3 affect nucleotide excision repair (NER), viable H3K4R and H3K79R mutants were generated in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These mutants show decreased UV survival and impaired NER at the transcriptionally silent HML locus, while maintaining normal NER in the constitutively expressed RPB2 gene and transcriptionally repressed, nucleosome loaded GAL10 gene. Moreover, the HML chromatin in these mutants has reduced accessibility to Micrococcal nuclease (MNase). Importantly, chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrates there is enhanced recruitment of the Sir complex at the HML locus of these mutants, and deletion of the SIR2 or SIR3 genes restores the MNase accessibility and DNA repair efficiency at this locus. Furthermore, following UV irradiation expression of NER genes in these mutants remains at wild type levels, with the exception of RAD16 which decreases by more than 2-fold. These results indicate that impaired NER occurs in the silenced chromatin of H3K79R and H3K4,79R mutants as a result of increased binding of Sir complexes, which may reduce DNA lesion accessibility to repair enzymes
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