Depletion of Histone H4 and Nucleosomes Activates the PHO5 Gene in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

EMBO J. 1988 Jul;7(7):2221-8.


We have previously constructed a yeast strain (UKY403) whose sole histone H4 gene is under control of the GAL1 promoter. This yeast arrests in G2 upon glucose treatment as a result of histone H4 depletion. The yeast PHO5 gene contains phase nucleosomes covering promoter (UAS) sequences in the PHO5 repressed state and it has been suggested that nucleosomes prevent the binding of positively acting factors to these UAS sequences. Using UKY403 we examined the length of polynucleosomes and nucleosome phasing in the PHO5 upstream region by the use of micrococcal nuclease and indirect end-labeling. It was found that glucose arrest led to a severe disruption in PHO5 chromatin structure and that most nucleosomes had their position altered or were lost from the PHO5 promoter region. Cell undergoing nucleosome depletion synthesized large quantities of accurate PHO5 transcripts even under repressive, high inorganic phosphate conditions. Histone H4 depletion did not appear to affect the repression or activation of another inducible yeast gene, CUP1. Arrest with landmarks in early G1 (in the cell division cycle mutant cdc28) or in various stages of G2 (in cdc15, cdc17 and cdc20) does not activate PHO5; nor does arrest due to chromosome topology changes (in top2 or the top1top2 topoisomerase mutants). cdc14, which has its arrest landmark at a similar point in the cell cycle as cdc15, does derepress PHO5. However, since it also leads to derepression of CUP1 it is probably functioning through an independent mechanism. Therefore, our data suggest that nucleosomes regulate PHO5 transcription.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes*
  • Genes, Fungal*
  • Histones / genetics*
  • Histones / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Nucleosomes / physiology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes