The Role of MacroH2A Histone Variants in CancerCancers 2021, 13(12), 3003 15 Jun 2021, . Epub 15 Jun 2021
The epigenome regulates gene expression and provides a molecular memory of cellular events. A growing body of evidence has highlighted the importance of epigenetic regulation in physiological tissue homeostasis and malignant transformation. Among epigenetic mechanisms, the replacement of replication-coupled histones with histone variants is the least understood. Due to differences in protein sequence and genomic distribution, histone variants contribute to the plasticity of the epigenome. Here, we focus on the family of macroH2A histone variants that are particular in having a tripartite structure consisting of a histone fold, an intrinsically disordered linker and a globular macrodomain. We discuss how these domains mediate different molecular functions related to chromatin architecture, transcription and DNA repair. Dysregulated expression of macroH2A histone variants has been observed in different subtypes of cancer and has variable prognostic impact, depending on cellular context and molecular background. We aim to provide a concise review regarding the context- and isoform-dependent contributions of macroH2A histone variants to cancer development and progression.