Amino acid deprivation of mammalian cells triggers several signalling pathways, the AAR (amino acid response), that results in transcriptional activation. For the ASNS (asparagine synthetase) and ATF3 (activating transcription factor 3) genes, increased transcription occurs in conjunction with recruitment of ATF4 to the gene. In HepG2 cells, analysis of the ASNS and ATF3 genes during AAR activation revealed increases in histone H3K4me3 (histone 3 trimethylated Lys4) and H4Ac (acetylated histone 4) levels, marks associated with active transcription, but a concurrent loss of total H3 protein near the promoter. The dynamic nature of AAR-regulated transcription was illustrated by a decline in ASNS transcription activity within minutes after removal of the AAR stress and a return to basal levels by 2 h. Reversal of ASNS transcription occurred in parallel with decreased promoter-associated H4Ac and ATF4 binding. However, the reduction in histone H3 and increase in H3K4me3 were not reversed. In yeast, persistence of H3K4me3 has been proposed to be a ‘memory’ mark of gene activity that alters the responsiveness of the gene, but the time course and magnitude of ASNS induction was unaffected when cells were challenged with a second round of AAR activation. The results of the present study document changes in gene-associated nucleosome abundance and histone modifications in response to amino-acid-dependent transcription.

You do not currently have access to this content.