Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Histones are subject to several post-translational modifications, which act to regulate gene expression and other processes on the DNA template. One such modification is the addition of a single ubiquitin moiety, which has been reported to influence chromatin dynamics and exhibit cross-talk with other histone modifications. Mono-ubiquitylation of H2B has been reported in eukaryotes as divergent as budding yeast, flies and humans, and is linked to transcriptional activation and gene silencing. Furthermore, ubiquitylation of H2A is also important for transcriptional repression in higher eukaryotes, and both histones play key roles in DNA repair. In this review, we will give an overview of the enzymes important for ubiquitylation and deubiquitylation of the various histone species, before examining the role of ubiquitylated histones in shaping the chromatin landscape and thus controlling the accessibility of DNA to effector proteins, through putative roles in promoting histone-histone interactions and stabilizing the structure of nucleosomes. We will finally discuss other processes reported to involve ubiquitylation of histones, including DNA repair, recombination and mRNA processing, underlining the diverse actions of these modifications.