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Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 May 1;41(10):5199-209. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt220. Epub 2013 Apr 5.

Dissecting the roles of the histone chaperones reveals the evolutionary conserved mechanism of transcription-coupled deposition of H3.3.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Gyeonggi-do 440-746, Republic of Korea.


The mammalian genome encodes multiple variants of histone H3 including H3.1/H3.2 and H3.3. In contrast to H3.1/H3.2, H3.3 is enriched in the actively transcribed euchromatin and the telomeric heterochromatins. However, the mechanism for H3.3 to incorporate into the different domains of chromatin is not known. Here, taking the advantage of well-defined transcription analysis system of yeast, we attempted to understand the molecular mechanism of selective deposition of human H3.3 into actively transcribed genes. We show that there are systemic H3 substrate-selection mechanisms operating even in yeasts, which encode a single type of H3. Yeast HIR complex mediated H3-specific recognition specificity for deposition of H3.3 in the transcribed genes. A critical component of this process was the H3 A-IG code composed of amino acids 87, 89 and 90. The preference toward H3.3 was completely lost when HIR subunits were absent and partially suppressed by human HIRA. Asf1 allows the influx of H3, regardless of H3 type. We propose that H3.3 is introduced into the active euchromatin by targeting the recycling pathway that is mediated by HIRA (or HIR), and this H3-selection mechanism is highly conserved through the evolution. These results also uncover an unexpected role of RI chaperones in evolution of variant H3s.

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