Elsaesser SJ, Goldberg AD, Allis CD
Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 20 (2) 110-117 [2010-04-00; online 2010-04-00]
Histone proteins often come in different variants serving specialized functions in addition to their fundamental role in packaging DNA. The metazoan histone H3.3 has been most closely associated with active transcription. Its role in histone replacement at active genes and promoters is conserved to the single histone H3 in yeast. However, recent genetic studies in flies have challenged its importance as a mark of active chromatin, and revealed unexpected insights into essential functions of H3.3 in the germline. With strikingly little amino acid sequence difference to the canonical H3, H3.3 therefore accomplishes a surprising variety of cellular and developmental processes.