The IME2 gene is one of the key regulators of the initiation of meiosis in budding yeast. This gene is repressed during mitosis through the repressive chromatin structure at the promoter, which is maintained by the Rpd3-Sin3 histone deacetylase (HDAC) complex. IME2 expression in meiosis requires Gcn5/histone acetyltransferase, the transcriptional activator Ime1, and the chromatin remodeler RSC; however, the molecular basis of IME2 activation had not been previously defined. We found that, during mitotic growth, a nucleosome masked the TATA element of IME2, and this positioning depended on HDAC. This chromatin structure was remodeled at meiosis by RSC that was recruited to TATA by Ime1. Stable tethering of Ime1 to the promoter required the presence of Gcn5. Interestingly, Ime1 binding to the promoter was kept at low levels during the very early stages in meiosis, even when the levels of Ime1 and histone H3 acetylation at the promoter were at their highest, making a 4- to 6-h delay of the IME2 expression from that of IME1. HDAC was continuously present at the promoter regardless of the transcriptional condition of IME2, and deletion of RPD3 allowed the IME2 expression shortly after the expression of IME1, suggesting that HDAC plays a role in regulating the timing of IME2 expression.
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