Acta biochimica et biophysica Sinica

The histone acetylation mediated by Gcn5 regulates the Hoxc11 gene expression in MEFs.

PMID 28541373


Hox genes are responsible for encoding transcription factors that are essential for anterior-posterior body patterning at early stages of embryogenesis. However, detailed mechanisms of Hox genes are yet to be defined. Protein kinase B alpha (Akt1) was previously identified as a possible upstream regulator of Hox genes. Furthermore, the Hoxc11 gene has been upregulated in Akt1 null (Akt1-/-) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), while repressed in wild-type MEFs. In this study, we propose to investigate the role of Gcn5, a histone acetyltransferase, in the regulation of Hoxc11 expression in MEFs. We showed that the H3 lysine 9 acetylation (H3K9ac) status has the same correlation with Hoxc11 expression and reported that Gcn5 is associated with the upregulation of Hoxc11 expression through H3K9ac in Akt1-/- MEFs. Since Hoxc11 was upregulated through histone acetylation in Akt1-/- MEFs, a functional role of Gcn5 on Hoxc11 expression was analyzed in Akt1-/- MEFs treated with Gcn5 specific inhibitor or transfected with Gcn5-small interfering RNA (Gcn5-siRNA). When the expression of Hoxc11 was analyzed using RT-PCR and real-time PCR, the Hoxc11 mRNA level was found to be similar in both Akt1-/- MEFs and control-siRNA transfected Akt1-/- MEFs. However, the Hoxc11 expression level was decreased in Gcn5-inhibited or Gcn5-knockdown Akt1-/- MEFs. Additionally, to analyze Gcn5-mediated histone acetylation status, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay was carried out in Gcn5-siRNA-transfected Akt1-/- MEFs. The H3K9ac at the Hoxc11 locus was decreased in Gcn5-knockdown Akt1-/- MEFs compared to controls. Based on these findings, we conclude that Gcn5 regulates Hoxc11 gene expression through mediating site-specific H3K9 acetylation in Akt1-/- MEFs.