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PLoS Biol. 2013 Jul;11(7):e1001601. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001601. Epub 2013 Jul 2.

Single cell visualization of yeast gene expression shows correlation of epigenetic switching between multiple heterochromatic regions through multiple generations.

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Department of Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Fukui, Fukui, Japan.


Differences in gene expression between individual cells can be mediated by epigenetic regulation; thus, methods that enable detailed analyses of single cells are crucial to understanding this phenomenon. In this study, genomic silencing regions of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that are subject to epigenetic regulation, including the HMR, HML, and telomere regions, were investigated using a newly developed single cell analysis method. This method uses fluorescently labeled proteins to track changes in gene expression over multiple generations of a single cell. Epigenetic control of gene expression differed depending on the specific silencing region at which the reporter gene was inserted. Correlations between gene expression at the HMR-left and HMR-right regions, as well as the HMR-right and HML-right regions, were observed in the single-cell level; however, no such correlations involving the telomere region were observed. Deletion of the histone acetyltransferase GCN5 gene from a yeast strain carrying a fluorescent reporter gene at the HMR-left region reduced the frequency of changes in gene expression over a generation. The results presented here suggest that epigenetic control within an individual cell is reversible and can be achieved via regulation of histone acetyltransferase activity.

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