Mutual Balance of Histone Deacetylases 1 and 2 and the Acetyl Reader ATAD2 Regulates the Level of Acetylation of Histone H4 on Nascent Chromatin of Human Cells

Mol Cell Biol. 2020 Apr 13;40(9):e00421-19. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00421-19. Print 2020 Apr 13.


Newly synthesized histone H4 that is incorporated into chromatin during DNA replication is acetylated on lysines 5 and 12. Histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) and HDAC2 are responsible for reducing H4 acetylation as chromatin matures. Using CRISPR-Cas9-generated hdac1- or hdac2-null fibroblasts, we determined that HDAC1 and HDAC2 do not fully compensate for each other in removing de novo acetyls on H4 in vivo Proteomics of nascent chromatin and proximity ligation assays with newly replicated DNA revealed the binding of ATAD2, a bromodomain-containing posttranslational modification (PTM) reader that recognizes acetylated H4. ATAD2 is a transcription facilitator overexpressed in several cancers and in the simian virus 40 (SV40)-transformed human fibroblast model cell line used in this study. The recruitment of ATAD2 to nascent chromatin was increased in hdac2 cells over the wild type, and ATAD2 depletion reduced the levels of nascent chromatin-associated, acetylated H4 in wild-type and hdac2 cells. We propose that overexpressed ATAD2 shifts the balance of H4 acetylation by protecting this mark from removal and that HDAC2 but not HDAC1 can effectively compete with ATAD2 for the target acetyls. ATAD2 depletion also reduced global RNA synthesis and nascent DNA-associated RNA. A moderate dependence on ATAD2 for replication fork progression was noted only for hdac2 cells overexpressing the protein.

Keywords: DNA replication; RNA-DNA hybrid; chromatin; histone acetylation; histone deacetylase; transcription.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATPases Associated with Diverse Cellular Activities / metabolism
  • Acetylation
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Replication / physiology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylase 1 / metabolism*
  • Histone Deacetylase 2 / metabolism*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • Chromatin
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Histones
  • DNA
  • HDAC1 protein, human
  • HDAC2 protein, human
  • Histone Deacetylase 1
  • Histone Deacetylase 2
  • ATAD2 protein, human
  • ATPases Associated with Diverse Cellular Activities
  • Lysine