Transcriptional repression of the silent mating-type loci HMLalpha and HMRa in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is regulated by chromatin structure. Sas2p is a catalytic subunit of the SAS histone acetyltransferase (HAT) complex. Although many HATs seem to relieve chromosomal repression to facilitate transcriptional activation, sas mutant phenotypes include loss of SIR1-dependent silencing of HMLalpha. To gain insight into the mechanism of the SAS complex mediated silencing at HMLalpha, we investigated the expression and chromatin structure of the alpha2 gene in the HMLalpha locus. We found that deletion of SAS2 in combination with a null allele of SIR1 changed the chromatin structure of the precisely positioned nucleosome, which includes the mRNA start site of the alpha2 gene and derepressed alpha2 transcription. The Sas2p HAT domain was required for this silencing. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed that the SAS complex was associated with the HMLalpha locus, and ASF1 (which encodes chromatin assembly factor Asf1p), but not SIR1 and SIR2, was necessary for this localization. These data suggest that the HAT activity and ASF1-dependent localization of the SAS complex are required for SIR1-dependent HMLalpha silencing.
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