© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Mammalian telomeres and subtelomeres are marked by heterochromatic epigenetic modifications, including repressive DNA methylation and histone methylation (e.g., H3K9me3 and H4K20me3). Loss of these epigenetic marks results in increased rates of telomere recombination and elongation. Other than these repressive epigenetic marks, telomeric and subtelomeric H3 and H4 are underacetylated. Yet, whether histone acetylation also regulates telomere length has not been directly addressed. We thought to test the effects of histone acetylation levels on telomere length using histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor (sodium butyrate, NaB) that mediates histone hyperacetylation and histone acetyltransferase (HAT) inhibitor (C646) that mediates histone hypoacetylation. We show that histone hyperacetylation dramatically elongates telomeres in wild-type ES cells, and only slightly elongates telomeres in Terc(-/-) ES cells, suggesting that Terc is involved in histone acetylation-induced telomere elongation. In contrast, histone hypoacetylation shortens telomeres in both wild-type and Terc(-/-) ES cells. Additionally, histone hyperacetylation activates 2-cell (2C) specific genes including Zscan4, which is involved in telomere recombination and elongation, whereas histone hypoacetylation represses Zscan4 and 2C genes. These data suggest that histone acetylation levels affect the heterochromatic state at telomeres and subtelomeres, and regulate gene expression at subtelomeres, linking histone acetylation to telomere length maintenance.