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PLoS Genet. 2009 Oct;5(10):e1000684. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000684. Epub 2009 Oct 16.

The elongator complex interacts with PCNA and modulates transcriptional silencing and sensitivity to DNA damage agents.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.


Histone chaperones CAF-1 and Asf1 function to deposit newly synthesized histones onto replicating DNA to promote nucleosome formation in a proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) dependent process. The DNA replication- or DNA repair-coupled nucleosome assembly pathways are important for maintenance of transcriptional gene silencing and genome stability. However, how these pathways are regulated is not well understood. Here we report an interaction between the Elongator histone acetyltransferase and the proliferating cell nuclear antigen. Cells lacking Elp3 (K-acetyltransferase Kat9), the catalytic subunit of the six-subunit Elongator complex, partially lose silencing of reporter genes at the chromosome VIIL telomere and at the HMR locus, and are sensitive to the DNA replication inhibitor hydroxyurea (HU) and the damaging agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS). Like deletion of the ELP3, mutation of each of the four other subunits of the Elongator complex as well as mutations in Elp3 that compromise the formation of the Elongator complex also result in loss of silencing and increased HU sensitivity. Moreover, Elp3 is required for S-phase progression in the presence of HU. Epistasis analysis indicates that the elp3Delta mutant, which itself is sensitive to MMS, exacerbates the MMS sensitivity of cells lacking histone chaperones Asf1, CAF-1 and the H3 lysine 56 acetyltransferase Rtt109. The elp3Delta mutant has allele specific genetic interactions with mutations in POL30 that encodes PCNA and PCNA binds to the Elongator complex both in vivo and in vitro. Together, these results uncover a novel role for the intact Elongator complex in transcriptional silencing and maintenance of genome stability, and it does so in a pathway linked to the DNA replication and DNA repair protein PCNA.

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