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Mol Cell Biol. 2002 Jun;22(12):4167-80.

Steps in assembly of silent chromatin in yeast: Sir3-independent binding of a Sir2/Sir4 complex to silencers and role for Sir2-dependent deacetylation.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Transcriptional silencing at the budding yeast silent mating type (HM) loci and telomeric DNA regions requires Sir2, a conserved NAD-dependent histone deacetylase, Sir3, Sir4, histones H3 and H4, and several DNA-binding proteins. Silencing at the yeast ribosomal DNA (rDNA) repeats requires a complex containing Sir2, Net1, and Cdc14. Here we show that the native Sir2/Sir4 complex is composed solely of Sir2 and Sir4 and that native Sir3 is not associated with other proteins. We further show that the initial binding of the Sir2/Sir4 complex to DNA sites that nucleate silencing, accompanied by partial Sir2-dependent histone deacetylation, occurs independently of Sir3 and is likely to be the first step in assembly of silent chromatin at the HM loci and telomeres. The enzymatic activity of Sir2 is not required for this initial binding, but is required for the association of silencing proteins with regions distal from nucleation sites. At the rDNA repeats, we show that histone H3 and H4 tails are required for silencing and rDNA-associated H4 is hypoacetylated in a Sir2-dependent manner. However, the binding of Sir2 to rDNA is independent of its histone deacetylase activity. Together, these results support a stepwise model for the assembly of silent chromatin domains in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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