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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 11;106(32):13153-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0906866106. Epub 2009 Aug 3.

Histone H3 N-terminus regulates higher order structure of yeast heterochromatin.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, Geffen School of Medicine, and Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


In budding yeast, telomeres and the mating type (HM) loci are found in a heterochromatin-like silent structure initiated by Rap1 and extended by the interaction of Silencing Information Regulator (Sir) proteins with histones. Binding data demonstrate that both the H3 and H4 N-terminal domains required for silencing in vivo interact directly with Sir3 and Sir4 in vitro. The role of H4 lysine 16 deacetylation is well established in Sir3 protein recruitment; however, that of the H3 N-terminal tail has remained unclear. To characterize the role of H3 in silent chromatin formation and compare it to H4 we have generated comprehensive high resolution genome-wide binding maps of heterochromatin proteins. We found that H4 lysine 16 deacetylation is required for the recruitment and spreading of heterochromatin proteins at all telomeres and HM loci. In contrast, the H3 N terminus is required for neither recruitment nor spreading of Sir proteins. Instead, deletion of the H3 tail leads to increased accessibility within heterochromatin of an ectopic bacterial dam methylase and the decreased mobility of an HML heterochromatic fragment in sucrose gradients. These findings indicate an altered chromatin structure. We propose that Sir proteins recruited by the H4 tail then interact with the H3 tail to form a higher order silent chromatin structure.

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