Calcium-dependent dephosphorylation of the histone chaperone DAXX regulates H3.3 loading and transcription upon neuronal activation.
Activity-dependent modifications of chromatin are believed to contribute to dramatic changes in neuronal circuitry. The mechanisms underlying these modifications are not fully understood. The histone variant H3.3 is incorporated in a replication-independent manner into different regions of the genome, including gene regulatory elements. It is presently unknown whether H3.3 deposition is involved in neuronal activity-dependent events. Here, we analyze the role of the histone chaperone DAXX in the regulation of H3.3 incorporation at activity-dependent gene loci. DAXX is found to be associated with regulatory regions of selected activity-regulated genes, where it promotes H3.3 loading upon membrane depolarization. DAXX loss not only affects H3.3 deposition but also impairs transcriptional induction of these genes. Calcineurin-mediated dephosphorylation of DAXX is a key molecular switch controlling its function upon neuronal activation. Overall, these findings implicate the H3.3 chaperone DAXX in the regulation of activity-dependent events, thus revealing a new mechanism underlying epigenetic modifications in neurons.