Genome-wide patterns of histone modifications in fission yeast

University dissertation from Stockholm : Karolinska Institutet

Abstract: DNA is wrapped almost two times around a group of proteins called histones to form a chromosomal structure known as the nucleosome. Both DNA and histones can be modified with different chemical tags by several enzymes to activate or suppress a particular gene or group of genes. Histones can be covalently modified at several places. Among many different types of post-translational histone modifications, histone acetylation and methylation are two important modification types that are associated with transcriptional activation and repression. Histone acetylation and methylation can be added by histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone methyletransferases (HMTs), whereas these modifications can be removed by histone deacetylases (HDACs) and histone demethylases (HDMs). Histone modifications are not only involved in the regulation of gene expression, but also in DNA-based processes, such as replication, repair, and the formation and maintenance of heterochromatin. Combinations of modified and unmodified states of histones can form distinct histone modification patterns. In many different genome-wide studies, it was observed that a distinctive pattern of histone modification in various organisms is important for gene regulation, DNA replication, chromosome segregation and heterochromatin-mediated silencing. In this thesis, we have conducted several genome-wide investigations to uncover different histone modification patterns and their roles in transcriptional control in fission yeast. Our analysis of six different HDACs in fission yeast showed that Clr6 and Clr3 are mainly involved in keeping repressed genes silent; Sir2 and Hst2 repress non-expressed genes, and Hst4 acts globally to reduce gene expression, whereas Hos2 is required for the activation of gene expression. By investigating the influence of each HDAC on nucleosome density, we found that all sirtuins and Hos2 enzymes are required to maintain normal nucleosome density and distribution in the S. pombe genome. We have reported that histone acetylation patterns show a 5` to 3` polarity, i.e., the modification levels peak near the ATG and gradually decrease in the coding regions. We also found that histone acetylation patterns depend on gene expression but are independent of gene length. Comparing our data with other published datasets, we observed that different HDAC mutants affect acetylation in different parts of open reading frames (ORFs). We have demonstrated that histone H4 acetylation proceeds in the direction from K16 to K5, consistent with a `zip` model that may be involved in transcriptional control. Our analysis revealed antagonistic crosstalk between H3K36me2/me3 and H3K27ac at promoter regions. We observed that histone H3 K18, K27 and K9 acetylation positively correlate with gene expression, and a conserved pattern was also reported in other organisms. Finally, we report that histone H4K20me1 is strongly linked to active genes, whereas H4K20me3 is associated with weakly expressed genes. Our analysis further shows that H4K20me1 modification levels peak at 3‟UTR regions in active genes. Thus, our analysis revealed many different aspects of histone modification patterns and their roles in transcriptional control in fission yeast.

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