Histone H3.3 is required to maintain replication fork progression after UV damage

Alexander Frey, Tamar Listovsky, Guillaume Guilbaud, Peter Sarkies, Julian E. Sale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Unlike histone H3, which is present only in S phase, the variant histone H3.3 is expressed throughout the cell cycle [1] and is incorporated into chromatin independent of replication [2]. Recently, H3.3 has been implicated in the cellular response to ultraviolet (UV) light [3]. Here, we show that chicken DT40 cells completely lacking H3.3 are hypersensitive to UV light, a defect that epistasis analysis suggests may result from less-effective nucleotide excision repair. Unexpectedly, H3.3-deficient cells also exhibit a substantial defect in maintaining replication fork progression on UVdamaged DNA, which is independent of nucleotide excision repair, demonstrating a clear requirement for H3.3 during S phase. Both the UV hypersensitivity and replication fork slowing are reversed by expression of H3.3 and require the specific residues in the a2 helix that are responsible for H3.3 binding its dedicated chaperones. However, expression of an H3.3 mutant in which serine 31 is replaced with alanine, the equivalent residue in H3.2, restores normal fork progression but not UV resistance, suggesting that H3.3[S31A] may be incorporated at UV-damaged forks but is unable to help cells tolerate UV lesions. Similar behavior was observed with expression of H3.3 carrying mutations at K27 and G34, which have been reported in pediatric brain cancers. We speculate that incorporation of H3.3 during replication may mark sites of lesion bypass and, possibly through an as-yet-unidentified function of the N-terminal tail, facilitate subsequent processing of the damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2195-2201
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - 22 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


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