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Genes Dev. 2017 Apr 1;31(7):702-717. doi: 10.1101/gad.295188.116.

The histone variant H2A.Z promotes efficient cotranscriptional splicing in S. cerevisiae.

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Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, 90095 USA.
Graduate Program in Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Program, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.
Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.
Department of Biology, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey 08628, USA.
Molecular Biology Institute, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


In eukaryotes, a dynamic ribonucleic protein machine known as the spliceosome catalyzes the removal of introns from premessenger RNA (pre-mRNA). Recent studies show the processes of RNA synthesis and RNA processing to be spatio-temporally coordinated, indicating that RNA splicing takes place in the context of chromatin. H2A.Z is a highly conserved histone variant of the canonical histone H2A. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, H2A.Z is deposited into chromatin by the SWR-C complex, is found near the 5' ends of protein-coding genes, and has been implicated in transcription regulation. Here we show that splicing of intron-containing genes in cells lacking H2A.Z is impaired, particularly under suboptimal splicing conditions. Cells lacking H2A.Z are especially dependent on a functional U2 snRNP (small nuclear RNA [snRNA] plus associated proteins), as H2A.Z shows extensive genetic interactions with U2 snRNP-associated proteins, and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) reveals that introns with nonconsensus branch points are particularly sensitive to H2A.Z loss. Consistently, H2A.Z promotes efficient spliceosomal rearrangements involving the U2 snRNP, as H2A.Z loss results in persistent U2 snRNP association and decreased recruitment of downstream snRNPs to nascent RNA. H2A.Z impairs transcription elongation, suggesting that spliceosome rearrangements are tied to H2A.Z's role in elongation. Depletion of disassembly factor Prp43 suppresses H2A.Z-mediated splice defects, indicating that, in the absence of H2A.Z, stalled spliceosomes are disassembled, and unspliced RNAs are released. Together, these data demonstrate that H2A.Z is required for efficient pre-mRNA splicing and indicate a role for H2A.Z in coordinating the kinetics of transcription elongation and splicing.


H2A.Z; HTZ1; RNA processing; Swr1; budding yeast; chromatin; pre-mRNA splicing

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