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Mol Cell. 2004 Oct 8;16(1):93-105.

Human SirT1 interacts with histone H1 and promotes formation of facultative heterochromatin.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Nucleic Acids Enzymology, Department of Biochemistry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


We characterized human SirT1, one of the human homologs of the budding yeast Sir2p, an NAD+-dependent histone deacetylase involved in establishing repressive chromatin and increased life span. SirT1 deacetylates histone polypeptides with a preference for histone H4 lysine 16 (H4-K16Ac) and H3 lysine 9 (H3-K9Ac) in vitro. RNAi-mediated decreased expression of SirT1 in human cells causes hyperacetylation of H4-K16 and H3-K9 in vivo. SirT1 interacts with and deacetylates histone H1 at lysine 26. Using an inducible system directing expression of SirT1 fused to the Gal4-DNA binding domain and a Gal4-reporter integrated in euchromatin, Gal4-SirT1 expression resulted in the deacetylation of H4-K16 and H3-K9, recruitment of H1 within the promoter vicinity, drastically reduced reporter expression, and loss of H3-K79 methylation, a mark restricting silenced chromatin. We propose a model for SirT1-mediated heterochromatin formation that includes deacetylation of histone tails, recruitment and deacetylation of histone H1, and spreading of hypomethylated H3-K79 with resultant silencing.

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