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The histone acetyltransferase Gcn5 is critical for gene expression and development. In Drosophila, Gcn5 is part of four complexes (SAGA, ATAC, CHAT and ADA) that are essential for fly viability and have key roles in regulating gene expression. Here, we show that although the SAGA, ADA and CHAT complexes play redundant roles in embryonic gene expression, the insect-specific CHAT complex uniquely regulates expression of a subset of developmental genes. We also identify a substantial decrease in histone acetylation in chiffon mutant embryos that exceeds that observed in Ada2b, suggesting broader roles for Chiffon in regulating histone acetylation outside of the Gcn5 complexes. The chiffon gene encodes two independent polypeptides that nucleate formation of either the CHAT or Dbf4-dependent kinase (DDK) complexes. DDK includes the cell cycle kinase Cdc7, which is necessary for maternally driven DNA replication in the embryo. We identify a temporal switch between the expression of these chiffon gene products during a short window during the early nuclear cycles in embryos that correlates with the onset of zygotic genome activation, suggesting a potential role for CHAT in this process. This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper. © 2022. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


Eliana F Torres-Zelada, Smitha George, Hannah R Blum, Vikki M Weake. Chiffon triggers global histone H3 acetylation and expression of developmental genes in Drosophila embryos. Journal of cell science. 2022 Jan 15;135(2)

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PMID: 34908116

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