Epigenetic control of mammalian LINE-1 retrotransposon by retinoblastoma proteins

Diego E. Montoya-Durango, Yongqing Liu, Ivo Teneng, Ted Kalbfleisch, Mary E. Lacy, Marlene C. Steffen, Kenneth S. Ramos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs or L1 elements) are targeted for epigenetic silencing during early embryonic development and remain inactive in most cells and tissues. Here we show that E2F-Rb family complexes participate in L1 elements epigenetic regulation via nucleosomal histone modifications and recruitment of histone deacetylases (HDACs) HDAC1 and HDAC2. Our experiments demonstrated that (i) Rb and E2F interact with human and mouse L1 elements, (ii) L1 elements are deficient in both heterochromatin-associated histone marks H3 tri methyl K9 and H4 tri methyl K20 in Rb family triple knock out (Rb, p107, and p130) fibroblasts (TKO), (iii) L1 promoter exhibits increased histone H3 acetylation in the absence of HDAC1 and HDAC2 recruitment, (iv) L1 expression in TKO fibroblasts is upregulated compared to wild type counterparts, (v) L1 expression increases in the presence of the HDAC inhibitor TSA. On the basis of these findings we propose a model in which L1 sequences throughout the genome serve as centers for heterochromatin formation in an Rb family-dependent manner. As such, Rb proteins and L1 elements may play key roles in heterochromatin formation beyond pericentromeric chromosomal regions. These findings describe a novel mechanism of L1 reactivation in mammalian cells mediated by failure of corepressor protein recruitment by Rb, loss of histone epigenetic marks, heterochromatin formation, and increased histone H3 acetylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009


  • 5′ Untranslated region
  • Epigenetics
  • HDAC
  • Long interspersed nuclear elements
  • Pocket protein family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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