Chromatin serves as a regulator of various nuclear processes, with post-translational modifications of histone proteins serving as modulators to influence chromatin function. We have previously shown that histone H3 K79 methylation is important for repair of UV-induced DNA damage in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, acting through multiple repair pathways. To evaluate the potential role of distinct K79 methylation states in DNA repair, we identified four mutations in histone H3 that confer sensitivity to UV, each of which also has a distinct effect on specific K79 methylation states. Epistasis analyses indicate that each mutation exerts its phenotypic effects through distinct subsets of the various DNA damage response pathways, suggesting the existence of discrete roles for histone H3 in DNA damage checkpoint and repair pathways. Furthermore, we find that the distribution of K79 methylation states is altered by mutation of the acetylatable N terminal lysines in histone H4. The combined results suggest that K79 methylation states may be modulated in response to UV damage via a trans-histone regulatory pathway, and that distinct methylation states may provide a means of coordinating specific DNA repair and damage checkpoint pathways.
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