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J Biol Chem. 2004 Oct 8;279(41):42850-9. Epub 2004 Aug 2.

Regulation of Swi6/HP1-dependent heterochromatin assembly by cooperation of components of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway and a histone deacetylase Clr6.

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Research Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Gyeonggi 411-769, Republic of Korea.


A study of gene silencing within the mating-type region of fission yeast defines two distinct pathways responsible for the establishment of heterochromatin assembly. One is RNA interference-dependent and acts on centromere-homologous repeats (cenH). The other is a stochastic Swi6 (the fission yeast HP1 homolog)-dependent mechanism that is not fully understood. Here we find that activating transcription factor (Atf1) and Pcr1, the fission yeast bZIP transcription factors homologous to human ATF-2, are crucial for proper histone deacetylation of both H3 and H4. This deacetylation is a prerequisite for subsequent H3 lysine 9 methylation and Swi6-dependent heterochromatin assembly across the rest of the silent mating-type (mat) region lacking the RNA interference-dependent cenH repeat. Moreover, Atf1 and Pcr1 can form complexes with both a histone deacetylase, Clr6, and Swi6, and clr6 mutations affected the H3/H4 acetylation patterns, similar to the atf1 and pcr1 deletion mutant phenotypes at the endogenous mat loci and at the ctt1+ promoter region surrounding ATF/CRE-binding site. These data suggest that Atf1 and Pcr1 participate in an early step essential for heterochromatin assembly at the mat locus and silencing of transcriptional targets of Atf1. Furthermore, a phosphorylation event catalyzed by the conserved mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway is important for regulation of heterochromatin silencing by Atf1 and Pcr1. These findings suggest a role for the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway and histone deacetylase in Swi6-based heterochromatin assembly.

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