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J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 12;276(41):38307-19. Epub 2001 Jul 30.

Regulation of global acetylation in mitosis through loss of histone acetyltransferases and deacetylases from chromatin.

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Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X8, Canada.


Histone acetylation, a reversible modification of the core histones, is widely accepted to be involved in remodeling chromatin organization for genetic reprogramming. Histone acetylation is a dynamic process that is regulated by two classes of enzymes, the histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs). Although promoter-specific acetylation and deacetylation has received most of the recent attention, it is superimposed upon a broader acting and dynamic acetylation that profoundly affects many nuclear processes. In this study, we monitored this broader histone acetylation as cells enter and exit mitosis. In contrast to the hypothesis that HATs and HDACs remain bound to mitotic chromosomes to provide an epigenetic imprint for postmitotic reactivation of the genome, we observed that HATs and HDACs are spatially reorganized and displaced from condensing chromosomes as cells progress through mitosis. During mitosis, HATs and HDACs are unable to acetylate or deacetylate chromatin in situ despite remaining fully catalytically active when isolated from mitotic cells and assayed in vitro. Our results demonstrate that HATs and HDACs do not stably bind to the genome to function as an epigenetic mechanism of selective postmitotic gene activation. Our results, however, do support a role for spatial organization of these enzymes within the cell nucleus and their relationship to euchromatin and heterochromatin postmitotically in the reactivation of the genome.

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