CRISPR-mediated HDAC2 disruption identifies two distinct classes of target genes in human cells

Priyanka Somanath, Rachel Herndon Klein, Paul S Knoepfler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The transcriptional functions of the class I histone deacetylases (HDACs) HDAC1 and HDAC2 are mainly viewed as both repressive and redundant based on murine knockout studies, but they may have additional independent roles and their physiological functions in human cells are not as clearly defined. To address the individual epigenomic functions of HDAC2, here we utilized CRISPR-Cas9 to disrupt HDAC2 in human cells. We find that while HDAC2 null cells exhibited signs of cross-regulation between HDAC1 and HDAC2, specific epigenomic phenotypes were still apparent using RNA-seq and ChIP assays. We identified specific targets of HDAC2 repression, and defined a novel class of genes that are actively expressed in a partially HDAC2-dependent manner. While HDAC2 was required for the recruitment of HDAC1 to repressed HDAC2-gene targets, HDAC2 was dispensable for HDAC1 binding to HDAC2-activated targets, supporting the notion of distinct classes of targets. Both active and repressed classes of gene targets demonstrated enhanced histone acetylation and methylation in HDAC2-null cells. Binding of the HDAC1/2-associated SIN3A corepressor was altered at most HDAC2-targets, but without a clear pattern. Overall, our study defines two classes of HDAC2 targets in human cells, with a dependence of HDAC1 on HDAC2 at one class of targets, and distinguishes unique functions for HDAC2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0185627
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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