Chromatin boundary elements serve as cis-acting regulatory DNA signals required to protect genes from the effects of the neighboring heterochromatin. In the yeast genome, boundary elements act by establishing barriers for heterochromatin spreading and are sufficient to protect a reporter gene from transcriptional silencing when inserted between the silencer and the reporter gene. Here we dissected functional topography of silencers and boundary elements within circular minichromosomes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We found that both HML-E and HML-I silencers can efficiently repress the URA3 reporter on a multi-copy yeast minichromosome and we further showed that two distinct heterochromatin boundary elements STAR and TEF2-UASrpg are able to limit the heterochromatin spreading in circular minichromosomes. In surprising contrast to what had been observed in the yeast genome, we found that in minichromosomes the heterochromatin boundary elements inhibit silencing of the reporter gene even when just one boundary element is positioned at the distal end of the URA3 reporter or upstream of the silencer elements. Thus the STAR and TEF2-UASrpg boundary elements inhibit chromatin silencing through an antisilencing activity independently of their position or orientation in S. cerevisiae minichromosomes rather than by creating a position-specific barrier as seen in the genome. We propose that the circular DNA topology facilitates interactions between the boundary and silencing elements in the minichromosomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)