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PLoS Biol. 2005 Dec;3(12):e393. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

Dynamic acetylation of all lysine 4-methylated histone H3 in the mouse nucleus: analysis at c-fos and c-jun.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


A major focus of current research into gene induction relates to chromatin and nucleosomal regulation, especially the significance of multiple histone modifications such as phosphorylation, acetylation, and methylation during this process. We have discovered a novel physiological characteristic of all lysine 4 (K4)-methylated histone H3 in the mouse nucleus, distinguishing it from lysine 9-methylated H3. K4-methylated histone H3 is subject to continuous dynamic turnover of acetylation, whereas lysine 9-methylated H3 is not. We have previously reported dynamic histone H3 phosphorylation and acetylation as a key characteristic of the inducible proto-oncogenes c-fos and c-jun. We show here that dynamically acetylated histone H3 at these genes is also K4-methylated. Although all three modifications are proven to co-exist on the same nucleosome at these genes, phosphorylation and acetylation appear transiently during gene induction, whereas K4 methylation remains detectable throughout this process. Finally, we address the functional significance of the turnover of histone acetylation on the process of gene induction. We find that inhibition of turnover, despite causing enhanced histone acetylation at these genes, produces immediate inhibition of gene induction. These data show that all K4-methylated histone H3 is subject to the continuous action of HATs and HDACs, and indicates that at c-fos and c-jun, contrary to the predominant model, turnover and not stably enhanced acetylation is relevant for efficient gene induction.

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