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Bioessays. 1997 Jan;19(1):67-74.

Histone acetylation: a possible mechanism for the inheritance of cell memory at mitosis.

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MRC Human Genetics Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


Immunofluorescent labelling demonstrates that human metaphase chromosomes contain hyperacetylated histone H4. With the exception of the inactive X chromosome in female cells, where the bulk of histone H4 is underacetylated, H4 hyperacetylation is non-uniformly distributed along the chromosomes and clustered in cytologically resolvable chromatin domains that correspond, in general, with the R-bands of conventional staining. The strongest immunolabelling is often found in T-bands, the subset of intense R-bands having the highest GC content. The majority of mapped genes also occurs in R-band regions, with the highest gene density in T-bands. These observations are consistent with a model in which hyperacetylation of histone H4 marks the position of potentially active gene sequences on metaphase chromosomes. Since acetylation is maintained during mitosis, progeny cells receive an imprint of the histone H4 acetylation pattern that was present on the parental chromosomes before cell division. Histone acetylation could provide a mechanism for propagating cell memory, defined as the maintenance of committed states of gene expression through cell lineages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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