Plant homeodomain fingers form a helping hand for transcription

Klaus Fortschegger, Ramin Shiekhattar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Several recent publications demonstrate a co-activator function for a subgroup of plant homeodomain fingers, which, in humans, comprises PHF2, PHF8 and KIAA1718. Besides an N-terminal plant homeodomain (PHD), these proteins also harbor an enzymati-cally active Jumonji-C domain (JmjC). While they have been shown to bind via their PHDs to H3K4me3-bearing nucleosomes at active gene promoters, their JmjC-domains are able to remove mono- and dimethyl-lysine 9 or 27 on histone H3 or monomethyl-lysine 20 on histone H4, chromatin modifications that correlate with transcriptional repression. Such dual histone crosstalk ensures the proper removal of repressive histone marks following transcriptional activation by RNA polymerases I and II. Mutations in the PHF8 gene lead to X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) and knockdown of KIAA1718 and PHF8 homologs in zebrafish causes brain defects. Thus, the co-activator function of this new class of chromatin-modifying enzymes has important functional roles in neuronal development. To continue with the nomenclature for histone demethylases, we propose the usage of KDM7A, -B and -C for KIAA1718, PHF8 and PHF2 proteins, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-8
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain development
  • Epigenetics
  • Histone demethylase
  • Neuronal differentiation
  • RNA polymerase II
  • Transcription
  • X-linked mental retardation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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