Promoter-specific recruitment of histone acetyltransferase activity is often critical for transcriptional activation. We present a detailed study of the interaction between the histone acetyltransferase complexes SAGA and NuA4, and transcription activators. We demonstrate by affinity chromatography and photo-cross-linking label transfer that acidic activators directly interact with Tra1p, a shared subunit of SAGA and NuA4. Mutations within the COOH-terminus of Tra1p disrupted its interaction with activators and resulted in gene-specific transcriptional defects that correlated with lowered promoter-specific histone acetylation. These data demonstrate that the essential Tra1 protein serves as a common target for activators in both SAGA and NuA4 acetyltransferases.
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