Tropberger P, Pott S, Keller C, Kamieniarz-Gdula K, Caron M, Richter F, Li G, Mittler G, Liu ET, Bühler M, Margueron R, Schneider R
Histone modifications are key regulators of chromatin function. However, little is known to what extent histone modifications can directly impact on chromatin. Here, we address how a modification within the globular domain of histones regulates chromatin function. We demonstrate that H3K122ac can be sufficient to stimulate transcription and that mutation of H3K122 impairs transcriptional activation, which we attribute to a direct effect of H3K122ac on histone-DNA binding. In line with this, we find that H3K122ac defines genome-wide genetic elements and chromatin features associated with active transcription. Furthermore, H3K122ac is catalyzed by the coactivators p300/CBP and can be induced by nuclear hormone receptor signaling. Collectively, this suggests that transcriptional regulators elicit their effects not only via signaling to histone tails but also via direct structural perturbation of nucleosomes by directing acetylation to their lateral surface.