We analysed the rates of histone deacetylation in chicken mature and immature red blood cells. A multiplicity of deacetylation rates was observed for the histones and these rates may be subdivided into two major categories based on the extent of histone acetylation. In one set of experiments, cells were labelled with [3H]acetate in the presence of the deacetylase inhibitor n-butyrate, thereby accumulating radiolabel in the hyperacetylated forms of the histone. These hyperacetylated forms are deacetylated rapidly. [3H]Acetate-labelled tetra-acetylated H4 (H4Ac4) in mature cells was deacetylated with an initial half-life (t1/2) of approximately 5 min (time required for the removal of one-half of the labelled acetyl groups). In immature cells, all [3H]acetate-labelled H4Ac4 was deacetylated with a t1/2 of approximately 5 min. Erythrocytes were also labelled with [3H]acetate for extended periods in the absence of the deacetylase inhibitor. During this period, radiolabel accumulated predominantly in the mono- and di-acetylated forms of the histone. Using this protocol, the rate of deacetylation of H4Ac1 was observed to be approximately 145 min for mature cells, and approximately 90 min for immature cells, demonstrating that the less extensively acetylated histone is deacetylated slowly. These results are discussed in the context of the rates of histone acetylation in chicken red blood cells described in the companion paper [Zhang & Nelson (1988) Biochem. J. 250, 233-240].
- © 1988 London: The Biochemical Society