Chromatin-specific remodeling by HMGB1 and linker histone H1 silences proinflammatory genes during endotoxin tolerance

Mohamed El Gazzar, Barbara K. Yoza, Xiaoping Chen, Benjamin A. Garcia, Nicolas L. Young, Charles E. McCall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Epigenetic silencing of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin lβ (IL-1β) transcription occurs in blood leukocytes of animals and humans after the initiation of severe systemic inflammation (SSI). We previously reported that the epigenetic signature requires induction of NF-κB factor RelB, which directs histone H3K9 dimethylation, disrupts assembly of transcription activator NF-κB p65, and induces a sustained switch from the euchromatin to heterochromatin. Here, we report the novel findings that intracellular high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) and nucleosome linker histone H1 protein are necessary components of endotoxin-mediated silencing of TNF-α in THP-1 human promonocytes. HMGB1 binds the TNF-α promoter during transcription silencing and promotes assembly of the repressor Re1B. Depletion of HMGB1 by small interfering RNA results in dissociation of RelB from the promoter and partially restores TNF-α transcription. Histone H1, which typically displaces HMGB1 from nucleosomal DNA, also binds concomitantly with HMGB1 to the heterochromatin of the silenced TNF-α promoter. Combined knockdown of HMGB1 and H1 restores binding of the transcriptionally active NF-κB p65 and reestablishes TNF-α mRNA levels. Chromatin reimmunoprecipitation experiments demonstrate that HMGB1 and H1 are likely recruited to TNF-α sequences independently and that their binding correlates with histone H3K9 dimethylation, as inhibition of histone methylation blocks HMGB1 and H1 binding. Moreover, HMGB1- and H1-mediated chromatin modifications are gene specific during endotoxin silencing in that they also bind and repress acute proinflammatory IL-1β, while no binding nor repression of antiinflammatory IκBα is observed. Finally, we find that H1 and HMGB1 bind to the TNF-α a promoter in human leukocytes obtained from patients with SSI. We conclude proinflammatory HMGB1 and structural nucleosome linker H1 couple as a component of the epigenetic complex that silences acute proinflammatory TNF-α during the assembly of heterochromatin in the SSI phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1959-1971
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2009


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