The cellular response to DNA lesions entails the recruitment of several checkpoint and repair factors to damaged DNA, and chromatin modifications may play a role in this process. Here we show that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae epigenetic modification of histones is required for checkpoint activity in response to a variety of genotoxic stresses. We demonstrate that ubiquitination of histone H2B on lysine 123 by the Rad6-Bre1 complex, is necessary for activation of Rad53 kinase and cell cycle arrest. We found a similar requirement for Dot1-dependent methylation of histone H3. Loss of H3-Lys(79) methylation does not affect Mec1 activation, whereas it renders cells checkpoint-defective by preventing phosphorylation of Rad9. Such results suggest that histone modifications may have a role in checkpoint function by modulating the interactions of Rad9 with chromatin and active Mec1 kinase.
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