Di- and trimethylation of histone H4 lysine20 (H4K20) are thought to play an important role in controlling gene expression in vertebrates and in Drosophila. By inducing a null mutation in Drosophila Suv4-20, we show that it encodes the histone H4 lysine20 di- and trimethyltransferase. In Suv4-20 mutants, the H4K20 di- and trimethyl marks are strongly reduced or absent, and the monomethyl mark is significantly increased. We find that even with this biochemical function, Suv4-20 is not required for survival and does not control position-effect variegation (PEV).
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