Insights into the role of histone H3 and histone H4 core modifiable residues in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Edel M Hyland, Michael S Cosgrove, Henrik Molina, Dongxia Wang, Akhilesh Pandey, Robert J Cottee, Jef D Boeke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


The biological significance of recently described modifiable residues in the globular core of the bovine nucleosome remains elusive. We have mapped these modification sites onto the Saccharomyces cerevisiae histones and used a genetic approach to probe their potential roles both in heterochromatic regions of the genome and in the DNA repair response. By mutating these residues to mimic their modified and unmodified states, we have generated a total of 39 alleles affecting 14 residues in histones H3 and H4. Remarkably, despite the apparent evolutionary pressure to conserve these near-invariant histone amino acid sequences, the vast majority of mutant alleles are viable. However, a subset of these variant proteins elicit an effect on transcriptional silencing both at the ribosomal DNA locus and at telomeres, suggesting that posttranslational modification(s) at these sites regulates formation and/or maintenance of heterochromatin. Furthermore, we provide direct mass spectrometry evidence for the existence of histone H3 K56 acetylation in yeast. We also show that substitutions at histone H4 K91, K59, S47, and R92 and histone H3 K56 and K115 lead to hypersensitivity to DNA-damaging agents, linking the significance of the chemical identity of these modifiable residues to DNA metabolism. Finally, we allude to the possible molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of these modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10060-70
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Blotting, Southern
  • DNA/chemistry
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Silencing
  • Heterochromatin/chemistry
  • Histones/chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation
  • Nucleosomes/metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Plasmids/metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae/metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Transcription, Genetic


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