We recently demonstrated that transcription from the mouse pericentric heterochromatin major (gamma) satellite repeats is under cell cycle control, being sharply downregulated at the metaphase to anaphase transition and resuming in late G(1)-phase dependent upon passage through the restriction point.
The highest rates of transcription were in early S-phase and again in mitosis with different RNA products detected at each of these times.(1) Importantly, differences in the percentage of cells in G(1)-phase can account for past discrepancies in the detection of major satellite transcripts and suggest that pericentric heterochromatin transcription takes place in all proliferating mammalian cells. A similar cell cycle regulation of heterochromatin transcription has now been shown in fission yeast,(2,3) providing further support for a conserved mechanism. However, there are still fundamental differences between these two systems that preclude the identification of a functional or mechanistic link.