Chromatin mediation of a transcriptional memory effect in yeast

Emily Paul, Itay Tirosh, William Lai, Michael J. Buck, Michael J. Palumbo, Randall H. Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Previous studies have described a transcriptional "memory effect," whereby transcript levels of many Abf1-regulated genes in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae are undiminished even after Abf1 has dissociated from its regulatory sites. Here we provide additional support for this effect and investigate its molecular basis. We show that the effect is observed in a distinct abf1 ts mutant from that used in earlier studies, demonstrating that it is robust, and use chromatin immunoprecipitation to show that Abf1 association is decreased similarly from memory effect and transcriptionally responsive genes at the restrictive temperature. We also demonstrate that the association of TATA-binding protein and Pol II decreases after the loss of Abf1 binding for transcriptionally responsive genes but not for memory effect genes. Examination of genome-wide nucleosome occupancy data reveals that although transcriptionally responsive genes exhibit increased nucleosome occupancy in abf1 ts yeast, the promoter regions of memory effect targets show no change in abf1 ts mutants, maintaining an open chromatin conformation even after Abf1 eviction. This contrasting behavior reflects different inherent propensity for nucleosome formation between the two classes, driven by the presence of A/T-rich sequences upstream of the Abf1 site in memory effect gene promoters. These sequence-based differences show conservation in closely related fungi and also correlate with different gene expression noise, suggesting a physiological basis for greater access to "memory effect" promoter regions. Thus, our results establish a conserved mechanism underlying a transcriptional memory effect whereby sequences surrounding Abf1 binding sequences affect local nucleosome occupancy following loss of Abf1 binding. Furthermore, these findings demonstrate that sequence-based differences in the propensity for nucleosome occupancy can influence the transcriptional response of genes to an altered regulatory signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-838
Number of pages10
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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