An Nalpha-acetyltransferase responsible for acetylation of the N-terminal residues of histones H4 and H2A.
A yeast gene has been identified that encodes a novel, evolutionarily conserved Nalpha-acetyltransferase responsible for acetylation of the N-terminal residues of histones H4 and H2A. The gene has been named NAT4. Recombinant Nat4 protein acetylated a peptide corresponding to the N-terminal tail of H4, but not an H3 peptide nor the peptide adrenocorticotropin. H4 and H2A are N-terminally acetylated in all species from yeast to mammals and hence blocked from sequencing by Edman degradation. In contrast, H4 and H2A purified from a nat4 mutant were unacetylated and could be sequenced. Analysis of yeast histones by acid-urea gel electrophoresis showed that all the H4 and H2A from the mutant migrated more rapidly than the same histones from a wild type strain, consistent with the histones from the mutant having one extra positive charge due to one less acetylated amino group. A comparison of yeast proteins from wild type and a nat4 mutant by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis showed no evidence that other yeast proteins are substrates of this acetyltransferase. Thus, Nat4 may be dedicated specifically to the N-terminal acetylation of histones H4 and H2A. Surprisingly, nat4 mutants grow at a normal rate and have no readily observable phenotypes.