Histon Demethylases

Understanding Histone Demethylases

Histone demethylases are enzymes responsible for removing methyl groups from lysine and arginine amino acid residues on histone proteins in chromatin. These enzymes play a crucial role in gene regulation, particularly in the process of epigenetic modification. In this blog post, we’ll explore the key points you need to know about histone demethylases.

Key points
  • Epigenetic modifications are changes that occur in the chromatin structure that do not involve changes to the DNA sequence. Histones, which are protein molecules that package DNA, are modified in various ways to control gene expression. One such modification is the methylation of lysine or arginine residues, which affects the chromatin structure and gene expression.
  • Histone demethylases are enzymes that remove these methyl groups from lysine or arginine residues in histone proteins. There are two main families of histone demethylases: the Jumonji-C (JmjC) domain-containing demethylases and the Lysine-specific demethylase (LSD) family.
  • JmjC demethylases are called that because they contain the JmjC domain, which carries out the catalytic activity of the enzyme, while LSD-demethylases are specific to the lysine amino acid residue. Both types of enzymes require iron and oxygen to carry out their function.
  • Histone demethylases have an important role in gene expression regulation. By removing methyl groups from histone proteins, they cause the chromatin to become more open which allows transcriptional machinery to access the DNA sequence and lead to gene transcription. The absence of histone demethylases can cause an increase in chromatin methylation leading to gene silencing.
  • Histone demethylases play a role in various cellular processes including differentiation, development, and oncogenesis. Dysregulation of histone demethylases has been linked to various diseases including cancer, neurological disorders, and immune disorders.
  • Different medications that target histone demethylases are currently being developed for potential therapeutic use.

In summary, histone demethylases are enzymes that play a vital role in the control of gene expression through the removal of methyl groups from histone proteins. Their function is critical in various cellular processes including differentiation, development, and oncogenesis. While they are involved in maintaining normal cellular physiology, their dysregulation has been linked to various diseases including cancer and neurological disorders.