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Int J Cancer. 2002 Feb 10;97(5):567-73.

Modulation of HMG-N2 binding to chromatin by butyrate-induced acetylation in human colon adenocarcinoma cells.

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Department of Medicine, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


Butyrate, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA), is generated by anaerobic fermentation of undigested carbohydrates within the colon. Butyrate enhances acetylation of core histones, a process directly linked to the formation of active chromatin and gene expression. However, additional chromatin components also contribute to the formation of transcriptionally active chromatin. The high mobility group protein N2 (HMG-N2), a nonhistone protein, is involved in chromatin structure modulation. We examined the effects of butyrate on HMG-N2 expression, hyperacetylation and chromatin binding. HT29 human adenocarcinoma cells were incubated with butyrate. Levels of HMG-N2 mRNA and of total or acetylated HMG-N2 protein were analyzed. Protein dynamics were investigated with transfected cells expressing HMG-N2-EGFP fusion proteins. Treatment of HT29 cells with butyrate led to significant hyperacetylation of HMG-N2. Levels of HMG-N2 protein remained unchanged. Northern blot analysis revealed a significant reduction in HMG-N2 mRNA levels after treatment with butyrate. Analysis of HMG-N2-EGFP transfected HT29 cells demonstrated that butyrate treatment changes the binding properties of HMG-N2-EGFP to chromatin. In addition, butyrate treatment resulted in solubilization of endogenous acetylated HMG-N2 into the supernatant of permeabilized cells. We demonstrate that butyrate treatment is associated with hyperacetylation of HMG-N2 protein in HT29 cells. The modulation of this nonhistone chromatin protein resulted in altered binding properties to chromatin. This may represent an additional step in changing chromatin structure and composition with subsequent consequences for transcription and gene expression. Modulation of nonhistone chromatin proteins, like the ubiquitous HMG-N2 proteins, may be partly responsible for the wide range of butyrate-associated effects.

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