Reversible histone modifications and the chromosome cell cycle

Bioessays. 1992 Jan;14(1):9-16. doi: 10.1002/bies.950140103.


During the eukaryotic cell cycle, chromosomes undergo large structural transitions and spatial rearrangements that are associated with the major cell functions of genome replication, transcription and chromosome condensation to metaphase chromosomes. Eukaryotic cells have evolved cell cycle dependent processes that modulate histone:DNA interactions in chromosomes. These are; i) acetylations of lysines; ii) phosphorylations of serines and threonines and iii) ubiquitinations of lysines. All of these reversible modifications are contained in the well-defined very basic N- and C-terminal domains of histones. Acetylations and phosphorylations markedly affect the charge densities of these domains whereas ubiquitination adds a bulky globular protein, ubiquitin, to lysines in the C-terminal tails of H2A and H2B. Histone acetylations are strictly associated with genome replication and transcription; histone H1 and H3 phosphorylations correlate with the process of chromosome condensation. The subunits of histone H1 kinase have now been shown to be cyclins and the p34CDC2 kinase product of the cell cycle control gene CDC2. It is probable that all of the processes that control chromosome structure:function relationships are also involved in the control of the cell cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure
  • Chromosomes / metabolism*
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Chromosomes, Fungal / ultrastructure
  • DNA, Superhelical / ultrastructure
  • Eukaryotic Cells / cytology
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells / ultrastructure
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Nucleosomes / ultrastructure
  • Phosphorylation
  • Physarum polycephalum / genetics
  • Physarum polycephalum / ultrastructure
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / ultrastructure
  • Ubiquitins / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Superhelical
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes
  • Ubiquitins