Editors' ChoiceCell Biology

Epigenetic Signals

Sci. Signal.  08 Sep 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 87, pp. ec299
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.287ec299

The lipid sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a signaling molecule that binds to receptors on the cell surface to initiate biochemical changes that control a range of biological processes from growth and survival to immune reactions. Hait et al. report that S1P can also function by direct binding to the nuclear enzymes, histone deacetylases (HDACs) 1 and 2. The enzyme that generates S1P, sphingosine kinase 2 (ShpK2), is present in the nucleus in complexes with HDAC1 and HDAC2. Generation of S1P and its binding to HDACs inhibited deacetylation of histone. Such histone modification is an epigenetic mechanism that controls gene transcription. Thus, generation of S1P in the nucleus appears to be a signaling mechanism by which cells can control gene expression in response to various stimuli.

N. C. Hait, J. Allegood, M. Maceyka, G. M. Strub, K. B. Harikumar, S. K. Singh, C. Luo, R. Marmorstein, T. Kordula, S. Milstien, S. Spiegel, Regulation of histone acetylation in the nucleus by sphingosine-1-phosphate. Science 325, 1254–1257 (2009). [Abstract] [Full Text]