The human HIRA gene has been named after Hir1p and Hir2p, two corepressors which together appear to act on chromatin structure to control gene transcription in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. HIRA homologs are expressed in a regulated fashion during mouse and chicken embryogenesis, and the human gene is a major candidate for the DiGeorge syndrome and related developmental disorders caused by a reduction to single dose of a fragment of chromosome 22q. Western blot analysis and double-immunofluorescence experiments using a specific antiserum revealed a primary nuclear localization of HIRA. Similar to Hir1p, HIRA contains seven amino-terminal WD repeats and probably functions as part of a multiprotein complex. HIRA and core histone H2B were found to physically interact in a yeast double-hybrid protein interaction trap, in GST pull-down assays, and in coimmunoprecipitation experiments performed from cellular extracts. In vitro, HIRA also interacted with core histone H4. H2B- and H4-binding domains were overlapping but distinguishable in the carboxy-terminal region of HIRA, and the region for HIRA interaction was mapped to the amino-terminal tail of H2B and the second α helix of H4. HIRIP3 (HIRA-interacting protein 3) is a novel gene product that was identified from its HIRA-binding properties in the yeast protein interaction trap. In vitro, HIRIP3 directly interacted with HIRA but also with core histones H2B and H3, suggesting that a HIRA-HIRIP3-containing complex could function in some aspects of chromatin and histone metabolism. Insufficient production of HIRA, which we report elsewhere interacts with homeodomain-containing DNA-binding factors during mammalian embryogenesis, could perturb the stoichiometric assembly of multimolecular complexes required for normal embryonic development
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