- Our lab had previously demonstrated that during transcription, the monoubiquitylation of histone H2B (H2Bub1) is important for the efficient reassembly of nucleosomes in the wake of elongating RNA polymerase II (Pol II). The mark is established co-transcriptionally, via the association of the ubiquitylation machinery (Rad6 and Bre1) with Pol II. The histone chaperone complex, FACT, which consists of Spt16 and Pob3 in yeast, promotes the formation of H2Bub1, and aids in histone redeposition during transcription. H2Bub1 is dynamic, with the mark being removed by the ubiquitin protease, Ubp8, which also travels with Pol II. Several lines of evidence suggest that the H2Bub1/FACT relationship might also be important for DNA replication. First, Spt16 localizes to origins of replication and associates with the RNA primase (Pol?). Second, Pob3 interacts with Replication Protein A (RPA), which is essential for binding and protecting ssDNA generated at replication forks. In addition, both Spt16/Pob3 were shown to be components of a larger Replisome Progression Complex. My preliminary data have implicated H2Bub1 in DNA replication. Specifically, I find that H2Bub1 plays a role in the resumption of DNA synthesis following an HU block early in S-phase. I have discovered that the MCM helicase falls off the template in htb-K123R cells that cannot be ubiquitylated at the G1-S phase transition. In the first specific aim, I propose to identify the precise replication steps that are dependent on H2Bub1. Also, I will define the role of Spt16 (FACT) in the process. Lastly, I will begin my search for novel epigenetic marks that influence DNA replication so as to expand my area of study for the independent phase of this award. I have also discovered that in the htb-K123R mutant, other replisome components are not efficiently recruited to origins of replication in S-phase. Consistent with that, is a slow completion of S-phase and slow fork progression. One possibility for this observation is that there is a defect in nucleosome dynamics at a replication fork. Perhaps H2Bub1 is important for nucleosome displacement or reassembly. Therefore, the second aim deals largely with the dynamic regulation of the mark and how it influences nucleosome dynamics during DNA replication.

Public Health Relevance

H2B ubiquitylation is a histone modification with significant relevance to human health, especially cancer. A key regulator of H2B ubiquitylation is a tumor suppressor, and several downstream histone modifications that are regulated by H2B ubiquitylation are linked to the inappropriate expression of developmentally important genes in leukemia. Understanding the fundamental role of H2B in chromatin structure and function could lead to the development of new therapies in this cancer. Aside from its role in gene expression, my current work describes a novel role of H2B ubiquitylation in DNA replication. Because a hallmark of cancer is uncontrolled cell growth, many chemotherapeutic strategies have been developed that target DNA replication. These strategies minimize the deleterious effects on non-dividing, terminally differentiated cells. However, most of these drugs only target the replication machinery itself, rather than the epigenetic regulators of DNA replication. Therefore, the work proposed herein would be invaluable towards identifying a completely new class of targets for the treatment of cancer. !

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Career Transition Award (K22)
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Subcommittee G - Education (NCI)
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Wali, Anil
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University of Nebraska Medical Center
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