Hyperacetylated histone H4 is a source of carbon contributing to lipid synthesis

Evelina Charidemou, Roberta Noberini, Chiara Ghirardi, Polymnia Georgiou, Panayiota Marcou, Andria Theophanous, Katerina Strati, Hector Keun, Volker Behrends, Tiziana Bonaldi, Antonis Kirmizis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Histone modifications commonly integrate environmental cues with cellular metabolic outputs by affecting gene expression. However, chromatin modifications such as acetylation do not always correlate with transcription, pointing towards an alternative role of histone modifications in cellular metabolism. Using an approach that integrates mass spectrometry-based histone modification mapping and metabolomics with stable isotope tracers, we demonstrate that elevated lipids in acetyltransferase-depleted hepatocytes result from carbon atoms derived from deacetylation of hyperacetylated histone H4 flowing towards fatty acids. Consistently, enhanced lipid synthesis in acetyltransferase-depleted hepatocytes is dependent on histone deacetylases and acetyl-CoA synthetase ACSS2, but not on the substrate specificity of the acetyltransferases. Furthermore, we show that during diet-induced lipid synthesis the levels of hyperacetylated histone H4 decrease in hepatocytes and in mouse liver. In addition, overexpression of acetyltransferases can reverse diet-induced lipogenesis by blocking lipid droplet accumulation and maintaining the levels of hyperacetylated histone H4. Overall, these findings highlight hyperacetylated histones as a metabolite reservoir that can directly contribute carbon to lipid synthesis, constituting a novel function of chromatin in cellular metabolism. [Abstract copyright: © 2024. The Author(s).]
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe EMBO Journal
Early online date21 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2024


  • Acetylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Histone Reservoirs
  • Lipid Metabolism

Cite this