Role of hMOF-dependent histone H4 lysine 16 acetylation in the maintenance of TMS1/ASC gene activity

Cancer Res. 2008 Aug 15;68(16):6810-21. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-0141.


Epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes in human cancers is associated with aberrant methylation of promoter region CpG islands and local alterations in histone modifications. However, the mechanisms that drive these events remain unclear. Here, we establish an important role for histone H4 lysine 16 acetylation (H4K16Ac) and the histone acetyltransferase hMOF in the regulation of TMS1/ASC, a proapoptotic gene that undergoes epigenetic silencing in human cancers. In the unmethylated and active state, the TMS1 CpG island is spanned by positioned nucleosomes and marked by histone H3K4 methylation. H4K16Ac was uniquely localized to two sharp peaks that flanked the unmethylated CpG island and corresponded to strongly positioned nucleosomes. Aberrant methylation and silencing of TMS1 was accompanied by loss of the H4K16Ac peaks, loss of nucleosome positioning, hypomethylation of H3K4, and hypermethylation of H3K9. In addition, a single peak of histone H4 lysine 20 trimethylation was observed near the transcription start site. Down-regulation of hMOF or another component of the MSL complex resulted in a gene-specific decrease in H4K16Ac, loss of nucleosome positioning, and silencing of TMS1. Gene silencing induced by H4K16 deacetylation occurred independently of changes in histone methylation and DNA methylation and was reversed on hMOF reexpression. These results indicate that the selective marking of nucleosomes flanking the CpG island by hMOF is required to maintain TMS1 gene activity and suggest that the loss of H4K16Ac, mobilization of nucleosomes, and transcriptional down-regulation may be important events in the epigenetic silencing of certain tumor suppressor genes in cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Antigens, CD
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • CpG Islands
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / genetics
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / physiology*
  • Histones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Lysine / chemistry*
  • Methylation
  • Nucleosomes / physiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology


  • Antigens, CD
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • CDH1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • ESR1 protein, human
  • Estrogen Receptor alpha
  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes
  • PYCARD protein, human
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • KAT8 protein, human
  • Lysine