Transcription regulation by histone modifications is a major contributing factor to the structural and functional diversity in biology. These modifications are encrypted as histone codes or histone languages and function to establish and maintain heritable epigenetic codes that define the identity and the fate of the cell. Despite recent advances revealing numerous histone modifications associated with transcription regulation, how such modifications dictate the process of transcription is not fully understood. Here we describe spatial and temporal analyses of the histone modifications that are introduced during estrogen receptor α (ERα)-activated transcription. We demonstrated that aborting RNA polymerase II caused a disruption of the histone modifications that are associated with transcription elongation but had a minimal effect on modifications deposited during transcription initiation. We also found that the histone H3S10 phosphorylation mark is catalyzed by mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinase 1 (MSK1) and is recognized by a 14-3-3ζ/14-3-3ϵ heterodimer through its interaction with H3K4 trimethyltransferase SMYD3 and the p52 subunit of TFIIH. We showed that H3S10 phosphorylation is a prerequisite for H3K4 trimethylation. In addition, we demonstrated that SET8/PR-Set7/KMT5A is required for ERα-regulated transcription and its catalyzed H4K20 monomethylation is implicated in both transcription initiation and elongation. Our experiments provide a relatively comprehensive analysis of histone modifications associated with ERα-regulated transcription and define the biological meaning of several key components of the histone code that governs ERα-regulated transcription
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