Variant histone H2A.Z is globally localized to the promoters of inactive yeast genes and regulates nucleosome positioning

PLoS Biol. 2005 Dec;3(12):e384. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030384. Epub 2005 Nov 1.


H2A.Z is an evolutionary conserved histone variant involved in transcriptional regulation, antisilencing, silencing, and genome stability. The mechanism(s) by which H2A.Z regulates these various biological functions remains poorly defined, in part due to the lack of knowledge regarding its physical location along chromosomes and the bearing it has in regulating chromatin structure. Here we mapped H2A.Z across the yeast genome at an approximately 300-bp resolution, using chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with tiling microarrays. We have identified 4,862 small regions--typically one or two nucleosomes wide--decorated with H2A.Z. Those "Z loci" are predominantly found within specific nucleosomes in the promoter of inactive genes all across the genome. Furthermore, we have shown that H2A.Z can regulate nucleosome positioning at the GAL1 promoter. Within HZAD domains, the regions where H2A.Z shows an antisilencing function, H2A.Z is localized in a wider pattern, suggesting that the variant histone regulates a silencing and transcriptional activation via different mechanisms. Our data suggest that the incorporation of H2A.Z into specific promoter-bound nucleosomes configures chromatin structure to poise genes for transcriptional activation. The relevance of these findings to higher eukaryotes is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Genome, Fungal / genetics
  • Histones / genetics*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Nucleosomes / genetics*
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins