GCN5 maintains genome stability during development

Yvonne A Evrard, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The histone acetyltransferase, GCN5, is essential for survival of mice during embryogenesis. GCN5 null embryos die early during development due to increased apoptosis. We have demonstrated that the increased apoptosis in associated with increased p53 protein levels. Loss of p53 rescues the embryonic apoptosis in the GCN5 null embryos. These results raised the question of what molecular trigger leads to p53 stabilization and cell death in the absence of GCN5. p53 is generally referred to as the gatekeeper of the cell, monitoring cellular responses to DNA damage, genotoxic stress, and other unfavorable conditions in the cell. Therefore, we examined individual cells in wild type and mutant embryos for gross chromosomal aberrations that might trigger a genome integrity checkpoint. Karyotype analysis indicates that approximately 30% of the cells in an E8.5 GCN5 null embryo display chromosomal aberrations, predominantly chromosomal end adhesions and associations. In wild type E8.5 embryos, only 6% of the cells have chromosomal aberrations. Recent data using telomeric FISH demonstrates that cells from GCN5 null embryos have a decreased telomeric signal. Telomere maintenance is essential for maintaining genome integrity. Telomeric defects are associated with loss of chromosomes and chromosomal rearrangements that can lead to detrimental gene fusions involved in many types of cancers. Little is known about the chromatin structures present near the telomeric ends, or whether any of the telomere-associated proteins are subject to post-translational modification such as acetylation. Our results are the first data to demonstrate the involvement of a histone acetyltransferase, GCN5, in maintaining genome integrity through telomere maintenance and/or capping.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Evrard, Yvonne A, "GCN5 maintains genome stability during development" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3131473.