Nucleic acids research

Heat shock factor 1 counteracts epigenetic silencing of nuclear transgenes in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

PMID 23585280


We found previously that the Chlamydomonas HSP70A promoter counteracts transcriptional silencing of downstream promoters in a transgene setting. To elucidate the underlying mechanisms, we analyzed chromatin state and transgene expression in transformants containing HSP70A-RBCS2-ble (AR-ble) constructs harboring deletions/mutations in the A promoter. We identified histone modifications at transgenic R promoters indicative for repressive chromatin, i.e. low levels of histone H3/4 acetylation and H3-lysine 4 trimethylation and high levels of H3-lysine 9 monomethylation. Transgenic A promoters also harbor lower levels of active chromatin marks than the native A promoter, but levels were higher than those at transgenic R promoters. Strikingly, in AR promoter fusions, the chromatin state at the A promoter was transferred to R. This effect required intact HSE4, HSE1/2 and TATA-box in the A promoter and was mediated by heat shock factor (HSF1). However, time-course analyses in strains inducibly depleted of HSF1 revealed that a transcriptionally competent chromatin state alone was not sufficient for activating the R promoter, but required constitutive HSF1 occupancy at transgenic A. We propose that HSF1 constitutively forms a scaffold at the transgenic A promoter, presumably containing mediator and TFIID, from which local chromatin remodeling and polymerase II recruitment to downstream promoters is realized.