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Histone H3K79 methyltransferase Dot1L is directly activated by thyroid hormone receptor during Xenopus metamorphosis

Kazuo Matsuura1, Kenta Fujimoto12, Biswajit Das13, Liezhen Fu1, Christopher D Lu1 and Yun-Bo Shi1*

Author Affiliations

1 Section on Molecular Morphogenesis, Program in Cellular Regulation and Metabolism (PCRM), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), 18 Library Dr, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA

2 Present address: Division of Gene Structure and Function, Research Center for Genomic Medicine, Saitama Medical University, 1397-1 Yamane, Hidaka-shi, Saitama, 350-1241, Japan

3 Present address: Laboratory of Immunopathogenesis and Bioinformatics, Clinical Services Program, SAIC-Frederick, Inc, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, Frederick, MD, 21702, USA

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Cell & Bioscience 2012, 2:25  doi:10.1186/2045-3701-2-25

Published: 16 July 2012



Thyroid hormone (T3) is important for adult organ function and vertebrate development. Amphibian metamorphosis is totally dependent on T3 and offers a unique opportunity to study how T3 controls postembryonic development in vertebrates. Earlier studies have demonstrated that TR mediates the metamorphic effects of T3 in Xenopus laevis. Liganded TR recruits histone modifying coactivator complexes to target genes during metamorphosis. This leads to nucleosomal removal and histone modifications, including methylation of histone H3 lysine (K) 79, in the promoter regions, and the activation of T3-inducible genes.


We show that Dot1L, the only histone methyltransferase capable of methylating H3K79, is directly regulated by TR via binding to a T3 response element in the promoter region during metamorphosis in Xenopus tropicalis, a highly related species of Xenopus laevis. We further show that Dot1L expression in both the intestine and tail correlates with the transformation of the organs.


Our findings suggest that TR activates Dot1L, which in turn participates in metamorphosis through a positive feedback to enhance H3K79 methylation and gene activation by liganded TR.

Dot1L; Intestinal stem cell development; Thyroid hormone receptor; Metamorphosis; Xenopus laevis and tropicalis; Histone methylation