The genomic distribution and function of histone variant HTZ-1 during C. elegans embryogenesis

Christina M. Whittle, Karissa N. McClinic, Sevinc Ercan, Xinmin Zhang, Roland D. Green, William G. Kelly, Jason D. Lieb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In all eukaryotes, histone variants are incorporated into a subset of nucleosomes to create functionally specialized regions of chromatin. One such variant, H2A.Z, replaces histone H2A and is required for development and viability in all animals tested to date. However, the function of H2A.Z in development remains unclear. Here, we use ChIP-chip, genetic mutation, RNAi, and immunofluorescence microscopy to interrogate the function of H2A.Z (HTZ-1) during embryogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans, a key model of metazoan development. We find that HTZ-1 is expressed in every cell of the developing embryo and is essential for normal development. The sites of HTZ-1 incorporation during embryogenesis reveal a genome wrought by developmental processes. HTZ-1 is incorporated upstream of 23% of C. elegans genes. While these genes tend to be required for development and occupied by RNA polymerase II, HTZ-1 incorporation does not specify a stereotypic transcription program. The data also provide evidence for unexpectedly widespread independent regulation of genes within operons during development; in 37% of operons, HTZ-1 is incorporated upstream of internally encoded genes. Fewer sites of HTZ-1 incorporation occur on the X chromosome relative to autosomes, which our data suggest is due to a paucity of developmentally important genes on X, rather than a direct function for HTZ-1 in dosage compensation. Our experiments indicate that HTZ-1 functions in establishing or maintaining an essential chromatin state at promoters regulated dynamically during C. elegans embryogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000187
JournalPLoS Genetics
Volume4
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Fingerprint

histones
Histones
Embryonic Development
genomics
embryogenesis
Caenorhabditis elegans
gene
Genes
operon
Operon
genes
Chromatin
chromatin
nucleosomes
Nucleosomes
RNA Polymerase II
autosomes
metazoan
X Chromosome
eukaryote

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics(clinical)

Cite this

Whittle, C. M., McClinic, K. N., Ercan, S., Zhang, X., Green, R. D., Kelly, W. G., & Lieb, J. D. (2008). The genomic distribution and function of histone variant HTZ-1 during C. elegans embryogenesis. PLoS Genetics, 4(9), [e1000187]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000187

The genomic distribution and function of histone variant HTZ-1 during C. elegans embryogenesis. / Whittle, Christina M.; McClinic, Karissa N.; Ercan, Sevinc; Zhang, Xinmin; Green, Roland D.; Kelly, William G.; Lieb, Jason D.

In: PLoS Genetics, Vol. 4, No. 9, e1000187, 09.2008.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Whittle, Christina M. ; McClinic, Karissa N. ; Ercan, Sevinc ; Zhang, Xinmin ; Green, Roland D. ; Kelly, William G. ; Lieb, Jason D. / The genomic distribution and function of histone variant HTZ-1 during C. elegans embryogenesis. In: PLoS Genetics. 2008 ; Vol. 4, No. 9.
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