The lysine methyltransferase G9a in immune cell differentiation and function

Sebastian Scheer, Colby Zaph*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


G9a (KMT1C, EHMT2) is a lysine methyltransferase (KMT) whose primary function is to di-methylate lysine 9 of histone H3 (H3K9me2). G9a-dependent H3K9me2 is associated with gene silencing and acts primarily through the recruitment of H3K9me2-binding proteins that prevent transcriptional activation. Gene repression via G9a-dependent H3K9me2 is critically required in embryonic stem (ES) cells for the development of cellular lineages by repressing expression of pluripotency factors. In the immune system, lymphoid cells such as T cells and innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) can differentiate from a naïve state into one of several effector lineages that require both activating and repressive mechanisms to maintain the correct gene expression program. Furthermore, the long-term immunity to re-infection is mediated by memory T cells, which also require specific gene expression and repression to maintain a quiescent state. In this review, we examine the molecular machinery of G9a-dependent functions, address the role of G9a in lymphoid cell differentiation and function, and identify potential functions of T cells and ILCs that may be controlled by G9a. Together, this review will highlight the dynamic nature of G9a-dependent H3K9me2 in the immune system and shed light on the nature of repressive epigenetic modifications in cellular lineage choice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number429
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberAPR
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Epigenetics
  • G9a
  • Immunological memory
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Innate lymphoid cells
  • Mouse models
  • T cells


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