Histone modifications are associated with regulation of gene expression that controls a vast array of biological processes. Often, these associations are drawn by correlating the genomic location of a particular histone modification with gene expression or phenotype; however, establishing a causal relationship between histone marks and biological processes remains challenging. Consequently, there is a strong need for experimental approaches to directly manipulate histone modifications. A class of mutations on the N-terminal tail of histone H3, lysine-to-methionine (K-to-M) mutations, was identified as dominant-negative inhibitors of histone methylation at their respective and specific residues. The dominant-negative nature of K-to-M mutants makes them a valuable tool for studying the function of specific methylation marks on histone H3. Here, we review recent applications of K-to-M mutations to understand the role of histone methylation during development and homeostasis. We highlight important advantages and limitations that require consideration when using K-to-M mutants, particularly in a developmental context.

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