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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Genome-wide analysis of the effect of histone modifications on the coexpression of neighboring genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Yangyang Deng, Xianhua Dai*, Qian Xiang, Zhiming Dai, Caisheng He, Jiang Wang and Jihua Feng

Author Affiliations

School of Information Science and Technology, Sun Yat-Sen University, 135 West Xin'gang Road, Guangzhou, PR China

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:550  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-550

Published: 9 October 2010



Neighboring gene pairs in the genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae have a tendency to be expressed at the same time. The distribution of histone modifications along chromatin fibers is suggested to be an important mechanism responsible for such coexpression. However, the extent of the contribution of histone modifications to the coexpression of neighboring genes is unclear.


We investigated the similarity of histone modification between neighboring genes using autocorrelation analysis and composite profiles. Our analysis showed that neighboring genes had similar levels or changes of histone modifications, especially those transcribed in the same direction. The similarities, however, were restricted to 1 or 2 neighboring genes. Moreover, the expression of a gene was significantly correlated with histone modification of its neighboring gene(s), but this was limited to only 1 or 2 neighbors. Using a hidden Markov model (HMM), we found more than 2000 chromatin domains with similar acetylation changes as the cultures changed and a considerable number of these domains covered 2-4 genes. Gene pairs within domains exhibited a higher level of coexpression than random pairs and shared similar functions.


The results of this study suggest that similar histone modifications occur within only a small local chromatin region in yeast. The modifications generally have an effect on coexpression with only 1 or 2 neighboring genes. Some blocking mechanism(s) might strictly restrain the distribution of histone modifications in yeast.