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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Aug;87(16):6286-90.

Genetic evidence for an interaction between SIR3 and histone H4 in the repression of the silent mating loci in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.


Repression of transcription from the silent mating loci (HML alpha and HMRa) is essential for mating ability in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This silencing is known to require at least five proteins (SIR1, SIR2, SIR3, SIR4, and histone H4) and is accompanied by a change in chromatin structure. We show here that four positions of histone H4 (N-terminal residues 16, 17, 18, and 19) are crucial to silencing. HML alpha and HMRa are efficiently repressed when these positions are occupied by basic amino acids but are derepressed when substituted with glycine. These results suggest that acetylation of Lys-16 would lead to derepression of the silent mating loci. Three strong extragenic suppressors of the latter H4 mutations were isolated and determined to be located in SIR3. These suppressors allow high mating efficiencies in cells expressing either wild-type H4 or H4 containing single amino acid substitutions. They did not allow efficient mating in a strain that contained an H4 N-terminal deletion. These results indicate that the SIR3 mutations do not bypass the requirement for the H4 N terminus but, rather, allow repression in the presence of a less than optimal H4 N terminus. This provides a link between one of the SIR proteins and a component of chromatin.

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