The MSL3 chromodomain directs a key targeting step for dosage compensation of the Drosophila melanogaster X chromosome.

Date Published:

2008 Dec


The male-specific lethal (MSL) complex upregulates the single male X chromosome to achieve dosage compensation in Drosophila melanogaster. We have proposed that MSL recognition of specific entry sites on the X is followed by local targeting of active genes marked by histone H3 trimethylation (H3K36me3). Here we analyze the role of the MSL3 chromodomain in the second targeting step. Using ChIP-chip analysis, we find that MSL3 chromodomain mutants retain binding to chromatin entry sites but show a clear disruption in the full pattern of MSL targeting in vivo, consistent with a loss of spreading. Furthermore, when compared to wild type, chromodomain mutants lack preferential affinity for nucleosomes containing H3K36me3 in vitro. Our results support a model in which activating complexes, similarly to their silencing counterparts, use the nucleosomal binding specificity of their respective chromodomains to spread from initiation sites to flanking chromatin.

Last updated on 10/20/2015