Mechanisms contributing to the maintenance of heterochromatin in proliferating cells are poorly understood. We demonstrate that chromatin assembly factor 1 (CAF-1) binds to mouse HP1 proteins via an N-terminal domain of its p150 subunit, a domain dispensable for nucleosome assembly during DNA replication. Mutations in p150 prevent association with HP1 in heterochromatin in cells that are not in S phase and the formation of CAF-1-HP1 complexes in nascent chromatin during DNA replication in vitro. We suggest that CAF-1 p150 has a heterochromatin-specific function distinct from its nucleosome assembly function during S phase. Just before mitosis, CAF-1 p150 and some HP1 progressively dissociate from heterochromatin concomitant with histone H3 phosphorylation. The HP1 proteins reassociate with chromatin at the end of mitosis, as histone H3 is dephosphorylated.
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