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The histone H3 lysine 56 acetylation pathway is regulated by target of rapamycin (TOR) signaling and functions directly in ribosomal RNA biogenesis.

Epigenetic changes in chromatin through histone post-translational modifications are essential for altering gene transcription in response to environmental cues. How histone modifications are regulated by environmental stimuli remains poorly understood yet this process is critical for delineating how epigenetic pathways are influenced by the cellular environment. We have used the target of rapamycin (TOR) pathway, which transmits environmental nutrient signals to control cell growth, as a model to delineate mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. A chemical genomics screen using the TOR inhibitor rapamycin against a histone H3/H4 mutant library identified histone H3 lysine 56 acetylation (H3K56ac) as a chromatin modification regulated by TOR signaling. We demonstrate this acetylation pathway functions in TOR-dependent cell growth in part by contributing directly to ribosomal RNA (rRNA) biogenesis. Specifically, H3K56ac creates a chromatin environment permissive to RNA polymerase I transcription and nascent rRNA processing by regulating binding of the high mobility group protein Hmo1 and the small ribosomal subunit (SSU) processome complex. Overall, these studies identify a novel chromatin regulatory role for TOR signaling and support a specific function for H3K56ac in ribosomal DNA (rDNA) gene transcription and nascent rRNA processing essential for cell growth.

Pubmed ID: 22553361


  • Chen H
  • Fan M
  • Pfeffer LM
  • Laribee RN


Nucleic acids research

Publication Data

August 8, 2012

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: CA133322
  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: CA140346
  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: R01 CA140346
  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: R21CA155864

Mesh Terms

  • Acetylation
  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Histones
  • Lysine
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Signal Transduction
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcription, Genetic