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Mol Cell. 2010 Sep 10;39(5):750-60. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.08.010.

A feed-forward circuit controlling inducible NF-κB target gene activation by promoter histone demethylation.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology, Stübeweg 51, 79108 Freiburg, Germany.


Activation of transcription from a silenced state is crucial to achieve specific gene expression in many biological contexts. Methylation of lysine 9 on histone H3 (H3K9) is widely associated with transcriptional silencing, and its disappearance is linked to the activation of several inflammatory genes by NF-κB. Here we describe that this event is controlled by a feed-forward circuit catalyzed by the activity of the histone demethylase Aof1 (also known as Lsd2/Kdm1b). We find that Aof1 is required for removal of dimethyl H3K9 at specific promoters, and thereby it controls stimulus-induced recruitment of NF-κB and gene expression. However, Aof1 is itself recruited by interaction with the c-Rel subunit of NF-κB, which is found at low levels associated with promoters in unstimulated cells. Thus, at these tightly regulated genes, NF-κB functions both as a transcriptional activator and as an upstream targeting signal that marks promoters to be derepressed by histone demethylation.

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