Chromatin remodeling is required for transcriptional activation and repression. MRG15 (MORF4L1), a chromatin modulator, is a highly conserved protein and is present in complexes containing histone acetyltransferases (HATs) as well as histone deacetylases (HDACs). Loss of expression of MRG15 in mice and Drosophila results in embryonic lethality and fibroblast and neural stem/progenitor cells cultured from Mrg15 null mouse embryos exhibit marked proliferative defects when compared with wild type cells. To determine the role of MRG15 in cell cycle progression we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation with an antibody to MRG15 on normal human fibroblasts as they entered the cell cycle from a quiescent state, and analyzed various cell cycle gene promoters. The results demonstrated a 3-fold increase in MRG15 occupancy at the cdc2 promoter during S phase of the cell cycle and a concomitant increase in acetylated histone H4. H4 lysine 12 was acetylated at 24 h post-serum stimulation while there was no change in acetylation of lysine 16. HDAC1 and 2 were decreased at this promoter during cell cycle progression. Over-expression of MRG15 in HeLa cells activated a cdc2 promoter-reporter construct in a dose-dependent manner, whereas knockdown of MRG15 resulted in decreased promoter activity. In order to implicate HAT activity, we treated cells with the HAT inhibitor anacardic acid and determined that HAT inhibition results in loss of expression of cdc2 mRNA. Further, chromatin immunoprecipitation with Tip60 localizes the protein to the same 110bp stretch of the cdc2 promoter pulled down by MRG15. Additionally, we determined that cotransfection of MRG15 with the known associated HAT Tip60 had a cooperative effect in activating the cdc2 promoter. These results suggest that MRG15 is acting in a HAT complex involving Tip60 to modify chromatin via acetylation of histone H4 at the cdc2 promoter to activate transcription.
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