GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cell Biology



First Thesis Advisor

Janet L. Stein


Histones, Gene Expression Regulation, Cells


Synthesis of histone proteins occurs largely during the S phase of the cell cycle and coincides with DNA replication to provide adequate amounts of histones necessary to properly package newly replicated DNA. Controlling transcription from cell cycle dependent and proliferation specific genes, including histone H4, is an important level of regulation in the overall governance of the cell growth process. Coordination of histone gene transcription results from the cumulative effects of cell signaling pathways, dynamic chromatin structure and multiple transcription factor interactions. The research of this dissertation focused on the characterization and identification of transcription factors interacting on the human histone H4 gene FO108. I also focused on the elucidation of regulatory elements within the histone coding region. Our results suggest a possible mechanism by which a transcription factor facilitates reorganization of histone gene chromatin structure.

The histone promoter region between -418 nt and -215 nt, Site III, was previously identified as both a positive and negative cis-regulatory element for transcription. Results of in vitroanalyses presented in this dissertation identified multiple transcription factors interacting at Site III. These factors include H4UA-1/YY1, AP-2, AP-2 like factor and distal factor (NF-1 like factor). Transient transfection experiments show that Site III does not confer significant influence on transcription; however, there may exist a physiological role for Site III which would not be detected in these assay systems.

We analyzed the histone H4 gene sequences for additional transcription factor binding motifs and identified several putative YY1 binding sites. Using electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA), we found that Site IV, Site I and two elements within the histone H4 coding region are capable of interacting with YY1. In transient transfection experiments using reporter constructs containing either Site III or one of the coding region elements as potential promoter regulatory elements, and an expression vector encoding YY1, we observed levels of expression up to 2.7 fold higher than from the reporters lacking these elements. Therefore, YY1 appears to interact at multiple regulatory sites of the histone gene and can influence transcription through these elements.

Prior to this study, the role of the coding region in histone gene expression was not known. To determine if the coding region is involved in regulating transcription, I constructed and tested a series of heterologous reporter constructs containing various sequences of the histone coding region. Results from these experiments demonstrated that the histone coding region contains three repressor elements. Extensive in vitro analysis indicated that the three repressor elements interact with the repressor CDP/cut. Further analysis showed that CDP/cut interactions with the repressor elements are cell cycle regulated and proliferation specific. CDP/cut interactions increase during the cell cycle when histone transcription decreases. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that CDP/cutis a cell cycle regulated repressor factor which influences transcription of the histone H4 gene as such.

The proximal promoter region of the histone H4 gene between -70 nt and +190 nt is devoid of normal nucleosome structure. This same region contains multiple CDP/cut binding sites. We hypothesized that CDP/cut is involved with chromatin remodeling of the histone gene. DNase I footprinting and EMSA results show purified recombinant CDP/cut interacts specifically with the histone promoter reconstituted into nucleosome cores. Thus, CDP/cutmay facilitate the organization of chromatin of the histone gene.

In conclusion, the research presented in this dissertation supports the hypothesis that expression from the human histone H4 gene FO108 is regulated by multiple cis-regulatory elements which interact with several proteins. CDP/cut interacts with Site II, the three repressor elements in the histone coding region and at Distal Site I. YY1 interacts at Site IV, Site III, Site I, and twice in the coding region. ATF/CREB interacts with Site IV and Site I. Distal factor interacts with Site III and within the histone coding region. IRF 2 interacts with Site II and Distal Site I. Thus, histone gene expression is probably regulated by transcription factors CDP/cut, YY1, IRF 2 and ATF/CREB interacting with multiple regulatory elements dispersed throughout its promoter and the coding region. Cell cycle regulation of these transcription factors may contribute to cell cycle dependent expression of the histone gene.



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