Histone acetylation, regulated by the opposing actions of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and deacetylases, is an important epigenetic mechanism in eukaryotic transcription. Although an acetyltransferase (PfGCN5) has been shown to preferentially acetylate histone H3 at K9 and K14 in Plasmodium falciparum, the scale of histone acetylation in the parasite genome and its role in transcriptional activation are essentially unknown. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and DNA microarray, we mapped the global distribution of PfGCN5, histone H3K9 acetylation (H3K9ac) and trimethylation (H3K9m3) in the P. falciparum genome. While the chromosomal distributions of H3K9ac and PfGCN5 were similar, they are radically different from that of H3K9m3. In addition, there was a positive, though weak correlation between relative occupancy of H3K9ac on individual genes and the levels of gene expression, which was inversely proportional to the distance of array elements from the putative translational start codons. In contrast, H3K9m3 was negatively correlated with gene expression. Furthermore, detailed mapping of H3K9ac for selected genes using ChIP and real-time PCR in three erythrocytic stages detected stage-specific peak H3K9ac enrichment at the putative transcriptional initiation sites, corresponding to stage-specific expression of these genes. These data are consistent with H3K9ac and H3K9m3 as epigenetic markers of active and silent genes, respectively. We also showed that treatment with a PfGCN5 inhibitor led to reduced promoter H3K9ac and gene expression. Collectively, these results suggest that PfGCN5 is recruited to the promoter regions of genes to mediate histone acetylation and activate gene expression in P. falciparum.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology