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Background: Somatic hypermutation introduces base substitutions into the rearranged and expressed immunoglobulin (Ig) variable regions to promote immunity. This pathway requires and is initiated by the Activation Induced Deaminase (AID) protein, which deaminates cytidine to produce uracils and UG mismatches at the Ig genes. Subsequent processing of uracil by mismatch repair and base excision repair factors contributes to mutagenesis. While selective for certain genomic targets, the chromatin modifications which distinguish hypermutating from non-hypermutating loci are not defined. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here, we show that AID-targeted loci in mammalian B cells contain ubiquitinated chromatin. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis of a constitutively hypermutating Burkitt's B cell line, Ramos, revealed the presence of monoubiquitinated forms of both histone H2A and H2B at two AID-associated loci, but not at control loci which are expressed but not hypermutated. Similar analysis using LPS activated primary murine splenocytes showed enrichment of the expressed V(H) and S gamma 3 switch regions upon ChIP with antibody specific to AID and to monoubiquitinated H2A and H2B. In the mechanism of mammalian hypermutation, AID may interact with ubiquitinated chromatin because confocal immunofluorescence microscopy visualized AID colocalized with monoubiquitinated H2B within discrete nuclear foci. Conclusions/Significance: Our results indicate that monoubiquitinated histones accompany active somatic hypermutation, revealing part of the histone code marking AID-targeted loci. This expands the current view of the chromatin state during hypermutation by identifying a specific nucleosome architecture associated with somatic hypermutation.


Originally Published in PLoS One by the Public Library of Science.

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