Cis- and trans-regulation by histone H4 basic patch R17/R19 in metazoan development

Open Biol. 2022 Nov;12(11):220066. doi: 10.1098/rsob.220066. Epub 2022 Nov 16.


The histone H4 basic patch is critical for chromatin structure and regulation of the chromatin machinery. However, the biological roles of these positively charged residues and the mechanisms by which they regulate gene expression remain unclear. In this study, we used histone mutagenesis to investigate the physiological function and downstream regulatory genes of H4 residues R17 and R19 in Drosophila. We found all histone mutations including R17A/E/H and R19A/E/H (R17 and R19 of H4 are substituted by A, E and H respectively) result in a range of growth defects and abnormalities in chromosomal high-order structures, whereas R17E mutation is embryonic lethal. RNA-seq demonstrates that downregulated genes in both R17A and R19A show significant overlap and are enriched in development-related pathways. In addition, Western and cytological analyses showed that the R17A mutation resulted in a significant reduction in H4K16 acetylation and male offspring, implying that the R17 may be involved in male dosage compensation mechanisms. R19 mutation on the other hand strongly affect Gpp (Dot1 homologue in flies)-mediated H3K79 methylation, possibly through histone crosstalk. Together these results provide insights into the differential impacts of positive charges of H4 basic patch R17/R19 on regulation of gene transcription during developmental processes.

Keywords: Drosophila; H4 basic patch; development; histone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Chromatin*
  • Histones* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Methylation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • Histones
  • Chromatin