Courtesy of David S. Goodsell

Histone deacetylases (HDACs), closely associated with gene silencing, may have a broader role in the cell than previously thought. Research suggests that HDACs have been misclassified simply because histones were the first substrates identified for these enzymes.

Holly Goodson and colleagues, University of Notre Dame, dug through genome databases and characterized the prokaryotic distribution of HDAC homologs, providing evidence that these proteins predate eukaryote evolution.1 As bacteria lack histones, human HDACs may play roles in other pathways. "I think the demonstration that the proteins exist ... and are doing something in bacteria, suggests that in fact the range of substrates could be much wider even than histones and tubulins," Goodson says. "That's important for drug development: to understand exactly what the biochemical pathways are that these enzymes are involved in, [and] to understand how inhibiting them will have therapeutic effects."

Ronen Marmorstein at...

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