Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Gene of the month: H3F3A and H3F3B
  1. Alessandro Pietro Aldera1,2,
  2. Dhirendra Govender2,3
  1. 1Anatomical Pathology, JDW Pathology Inc, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2Division of Anatomical Pathology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3Anatomical Pathology, Pathcare, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alessandro Pietro Aldera, JDW Pathology Inc, Cape Town, 7405, South Africa; aaldera{at}


H3F3A and H3F3B genes are located at 1q42.12 and 17q25.1, respectively, and encode identical H3.3 core histone proteins which form part of the histone hetero-octamer complex. Histones function by packaging DNA into small units, the nucleosome, and are highly susceptible to epigenetic post-translational modification. H3 K27 mutations have been shown to inhibit the polycomb repressive complex 2, which is normally involved in epigenetic gene silencing. Mutations in H3F3A and H3F3B are increasingly recognised in a variety of solid tumours. Point mutations in H3F3A have been described in giant cell tumour of bone and paediatric-type diffuse high-grade gliomas. Mutations in H3F3B have been described in chondroblastoma. Loss of trimethylation of H3 K27 is characteristic of most sporadic and radiation-associated malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours. Immunohistochemistry with a variety of novel antibodies directed against specific mutations, as well as loss of H3K27me3 staining, may be useful in specific settings and in diagnostically challenging cases.

  • oncogenes
  • genetics
  • medical oncology

Statistics from


  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty.

  • Contributors The manuscript was prepared by both authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.