In the eukaryotic genome, transcriptionally silent chromatin tends to propagate along a chromosome and encroach upon adjacent active chromatin. The silencing machinery can be stopped by chromatin boundary elements. We performed a screen in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for proteins that may contribute to the establishment of a chromatin boundary. We found that disruption of histone deacetylase Rpd3p results in defective boundary activity, leading to a Sir-dependent local propagation of transcriptional repression. In rpd3 Delta cells, the amount of Sir2p that was normally found in the nucleolus decreased and the amount of Sir2p found at telomeres and at HM and its adjacent loci increased, leading to an extension of silent chromatin in those areas. In addition, Rpd3p interacted directly with chromatin at boundary regions to deacetylate histone H4 at lysine 5 and at lysine 12. Either the mutation of histone H4 at lysine 5 or a decrease in the histone acetyltransferase (HAT) activity of Esa1p abrogated the silencing phenotype associated with rpd3 mutation, suggesting a novel role for the H4 amino terminus in Rpd3p-mediated heterochromatin boundary regulation. Together, these data provide insight into the molecular mechanisms for the anti-silencing functions of Rpd3p during the formation of heterochromatin boundaries.
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