Histone acetylation dynamics modulates chromatin conformation and allele-specific interactions at oncogenic loci

Nat Genet. 2021 May;53(5):650-662. doi: 10.1038/s41588-021-00842-x. Epub 2021 May 10.


In cancer cells, enhancer hijacking mediated by chromosomal alterations and/or increased deposition of acetylated histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27ac) can support oncogene expression. However, how the chromatin conformation of enhancer-promoter interactions is affected by these events is unclear. In the present study, by comparing chromatin structure and H3K27ac levels in normal and lymphoma B cells, we show that enhancer-promoter-interacting regions assume different conformations according to the local abundance of H3K27ac. Genetic or pharmacological depletion of H3K27ac decreases the frequency and the spreading of these interactions, altering oncogene expression. Moreover, enhancer hijacking mediated by chromosomal translocations influences the epigenetic status of the regions flanking the breakpoint, prompting the formation of distinct intrachromosomal interactions in the two homologous chromosomes. These interactions are accompanied by allele-specific gene expression changes. Overall, our work indicates that H3K27ac dynamics modulates interaction frequency between regulatory regions and can lead to allele-specific chromatin configurations to sustain oncogene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Alleles*
  • Base Pairing / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromatin / chemistry*
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Dosage
  • Genetic Loci*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • Oncogenes*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Lysine