Histone acetylation is generally associated with gene activation and chromatin decondensation. Recent mass spectrometry analysis has revealed that histone H4 lysine 20, a major methylation site, can also be acetylated. To understand the function of H4 lysine 20 acetylation (H4K20ac), we have developed a specific monoclonal antibody and performed ChIP-seq analysis using HeLa-S3 cells. H4K20ac was enriched around the transcription start sites (TSSs) of minimally expressed genes and in the gene body of expressed genes, in contrast to most histone acetylation being enriched around the TSSs of expressed genes. The distribution of H4K20ac showed little correlation with known histone modifications, including histone H3 methylations. A motif search in H4K20ac-enriched sequences, together with transcription factor binding profiles based on ENCODE ChIP-seq data, revealed that most transcription activators are excluded from H4K20ac-enriched genes and a transcription repressor NRSF/REST co-localized with H4K20ac. These results suggest that H4K20ac is a unique acetylation mark associated with gene repression.
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