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EMBO J. 2009 Jul 8;28(13):1878-89. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.119. Epub 2009 Apr 30.

Screen for DNA-damage-responsive histone modifications identifies H3K9Ac and H3K56Ac in human cells.

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Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.


Recognition and repair of damaged DNA occurs within the context of chromatin. The key protein components of chromatin are histones, whose post-translational modifications control diverse chromatin functions. Here, we report our findings from a large-scale screen for DNA-damage-responsive histone modifications in human cells. We have identified specific phosphorylations and acetylations on histone H3 that decrease in response to DNA damage. Significantly, we find that DNA-damage-induced changes in H3S10p, H3S28p and H3.3S31p are a consequence of cell-cycle re-positioning rather than DNA damage per se. In contrast, H3K9Ac and H3K56Ac, a mark previously uncharacterized in human cells, are rapidly and reversibly reduced in response to DNA damage. Finally, we show that the histone acetyl-transferase GCN5/KAT2A acetylates H3K56 in vitro and in vivo. Collectively, our data indicate that though most histone modifications do not change appreciably after genotoxic stress, H3K9Ac and H3K56Ac are reduced in response to DNA damage in human cells.

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