Two classes of sequences in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae are subject to transcriptional silencing: the silent mating-type cassettes and telomeres. In this report we demonstrate that the silencing of these regions is strictly associated with acetylation of the ε-amino groups of lysines in the amino-terminal domains of three of the four core histones. Both the silent mating-type cassettes and the Y domains of telomeres are packaged in nucleosomes in vivo that are hypoacetylated relative to those packaging active genes. This difference in acetylation is eliminated by genetic inactivation of silencing: The silent cassettes from sir2, sir3, or sir4 cells show the same level of acetylation as other active genes. The correspondence of silencing and hypoacetylation of the mating-type cassettes is observed even for an allele lacking a promoter, indicating that silencing per se, rather than the absence of transcription, is correlated with hypoacetylation. Finally, overexpression of Sir2p, a protein required for transcriptional silencing in yeast, yields substantial histone deacetylation in vivo. These studies fortify the hypothesis that silencing in yeast results from heterochromatin formation and argue that the silencing proteins participate in this formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology