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Open Access Research article

Genome-wide characterisation of the Gcn5 histone acetyltransferase in budding yeast during stress adaptation reveals evolutionarily conserved and diverged roles

Yongtao Xue-Franzén12*, Anna Johnsson12, David Brodin2, Johan Henriksson12, Thomas R Bürglin12 and Anthony PH Wright12

  • * Corresponding author: Yongtao Xue-Franzén yongtao.xue@sh.se

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 School of Life Sciences, Södertörn University, Huddinge, SE-141 89, Sweden

2 Center for Biosciences, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, SE-141 83, Sweden

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:200  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-200

Published: 25 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Gcn5 is a transcriptional coactivator with histone acetyltransferase activity that is conserved with regard to structure as well as its histone substrates throughout the eukaryotes. Gene regulatory networks within cells are thought to be evolutionarily diverged. The use of evolutionarily divergent yeast species, such as S. cerevisiae and S. pombe, which can be studied under similar environmental conditions, provides an opportunity to examine the interface between conserved regulatory components and their cellular applications in different organisms.

Results

We show that Gcn5 is important for a common set of stress responses in evolutionarily diverged yeast species and that the activity of the conserved histone acetyltransferase domain is required. We define a group of KCl stress response genes in S. cerevisiae that are specifically dependent on Gcn5. Gcn5 is localised to many Gcn5-dependent genes including Gcn5 repressed targets such as FLO8. Gcn5 regulates divergent sets of KCl responsive genes in S. cerevisiae and S. pombe. Genome-wide localization studies showed a tendency for redistribution of Gcn5 during KCl stress adaptation in S. cerevisiae from short genes to the transcribed regions of long genes. An analogous redistribution was not observed in S. pombe.

Conclusions

Gcn5 is required for the regulation of divergent sets of KCl stress-response genes in S. cerevisiae and S. pombe even though it is required a common group of stress responses, including the response to KCl. Genes that are physically associated with Gcn5 require its activity for their repression or activation during stress adaptation, providing support for a role of Gcn5 as a corepressor as well as a coactivator. The tendency of Gcn5 to re-localise to the transcribed regions of long genes during KCl stress adaptation suggests that Gcn5 plays a specific role in the expression of long genes under adaptive conditions, perhaps by regulating transcriptional elongation as has been seen for Gcn5 in S. pombe. Interestingly an analogous redistribution of Gcn5 is not seen in S. pombe. The study thus provides important new insights in relation to why coregulators like Gcn5 are required for the correct expression of some genes but not others.