The structure of (CENP-A-H4)(2) reveals physical features that mark centromeres.
ABSTRACT: Centromeres are specified epigenetically, and the histone H3 variant CENP-A is assembled into the chromatin of all active centromeres. Divergence from H3 raises the possibility that CENP-A generates unique chromatin features to mark physically centromere location. Here we report the crystal structure of a subnucleosomal heterotetramer, human (CENP-A-H4)(2), that reveals three distinguishing properties encoded by the residues that comprise the CENP-A targeting domain (CATD; ref. 2): (1) a CENP-A-CENP-A interface that is substantially rotated relative to the H3-H3 interface; (2) a protruding loop L1 of the opposite charge as that on H3; and (3) strong hydrophobic contacts that rigidify the CENP-A-H4 interface. Residues involved in the CENP-A-CENP-A rotation are required for efficient incorporation into centromeric chromatin, indicating specificity for an unconventional nucleosome shape. DNA topological analysis indicates that CENP-A-containing nucleosomes are octameric with conventional left-handed DNA wrapping, in contrast to other recent proposals. Our results indicate that CENP-A marks centromere location by restructuring the nucleosome from within its folded histone core.
Project description:The centromere is responsible for accurate chromosome segregation. Mammalian centromeres are specified epigenetically, with all active centromeres containing centromere-specific chromatin in which CENP-A replaces histone H3 within the nucleosome. The proteins responsible for assembly of human CENP-A into centromeric nucleosomes during the G1 phase of the cell cycle are shown here to be distinct from the chromatin assembly factors previously shown to load other histone H3 variants. Here we demonstrate that prenucleosomal CENP-A is complexed with histone H4, nucleophosmin 1, and HJURP. Recruitment of new CENP-A into nucleosomes at replicated centromeres is dependent on HJURP. Recognition by HJURP is mediated through the centromere targeting domain (CATD) of CENP-A, a region that we demonstrated previously to induce a unique conformational rigidity to both the subnucleosomal CENP-A heterotetramer and the corresponding assembled nucleosome. We propose HJURP to be a cell-cycle-regulated CENP-A-specific histone chaperone required for centromeric chromatin assembly.
Project description:Centromeres are defined by the presence of chromatin containing the histone H3 variant, CENP-A, whose assembly into nucleosomes requires the chromatin assembly factor HJURP. We find that whereas surface-exposed residues in the CENP-A targeting domain (CATD) are the primary sequence determinants for HJURP recognition, buried CATD residues that generate rigidity with H4 are also required for efficient incorporation into centromeres. HJURP contact points adjacent to the CATD on the CENP-A surface are not used for binding specificity but rather to transmit stability broadly throughout the histone fold domains of both CENP-A and H4. Furthermore, an intact CENP-A/CENP-A interface is a requirement for stable chromatin incorporation immediately upon HJURP-mediated assembly. These data offer insight into the mechanism by which HJURP discriminates CENP-A from bulk histone complexes and chaperones CENP-A/H4 for a substantial portion of the cell cycle prior to mediating chromatin assembly at the centromere.
Project description:Centromeres are the site of kinetochore formation during mitosis. Centromere protein A (CENP-A), the centromere-specific histone H3 variant, is essential for the epigenetic maintenance of centromere position. Previously we showed that newly synthesized CENP-A is targeted to centromeres exclusively during early G1 phase and is subsequently maintained across mitotic divisions. Using SNAP-based fluorescent pulse labeling, we now demonstrate that cell cycle-restricted chromatin assembly at centromeres is unique to CENP-A nucleosomes and does not involve assembly of other H3 variants. Strikingly, stable retention is restricted to the CENP-A/H4 core of the nucleosome, which we find to outlast general chromatin across several cell divisions. We further show that cell cycle timing of CENP-A assembly is independent of centromeric DNA sequences and instead is mediated by the CENP-A targeting domain. Unexpectedly, this domain also induces stable transmission of centromeric nucleosomes, independent of the CENP-A deposition factor HJURP. This demonstrates that intrinsic properties of the CENP-A protein direct its cell cycle-restricted assembly and induces quantitative mitotic transmission of the CENP-A/H4 nucleosome core, ensuring long-term stability and epigenetic maintenance of centromere position.
Project description:The basic determinant of chromosome inheritance, the centromere, is specified in many eukaryotes by an epigenetic mark. Using gene targeting in human cells and fission yeast, chromatin containing the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENP-A is demonstrated to be the epigenetic mark that acts through a two-step mechanism to identify, maintain and propagate centromere function indefinitely. Initially, centromere position is replicated and maintained by chromatin assembled with the centromere-targeting domain (CATD) of CENP-A substituted into H3. Subsequently, nucleation of kinetochore assembly onto CATD-containing chromatin is shown to require either the amino- or carboxy-terminal tail of CENP-A for recruitment of inner kinetochore proteins, including stabilizing CENP-B binding to human centromeres or direct recruitment of CENP-C, respectively.
Project description:Mitosis ensures equal genome segregation in the eukaryotic lineage. This process is facilitated by microtubule attachment to each chromosome via its centromere. In centromeres, canonical histone H3 is replaced in nucleosomes by a centromere-specific histone H3 variant (CENH3), providing the unique epigenetic signature required for microtubule binding. Due to recent findings of alternative CENH3 nucleosomal forms in invertebrate centromeres, it has been debated whether the classical octameric nucleosomal arrangement of two copies of CENH3, H4, H2A, and H2B forms the basis of the vertebrate centromere. To address this question directly, we examined CENH3 [centromere protein A (CENP-A)] nucleosomal organization in human cells, using a combination of nucleosome component analysis, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and immunoelectron microscopy (immuno-EM). We report that native CENP-A nucleosomes contain centromeric alpha satellite DNA, have equimolar amounts of H2A, H2B, CENP-A, and H4, and bind kinetochore proteins. These nucleosomes, when measured by AFM, yield one-half the dimensions of canonical octameric nucleosomes. Using immuno-EM, we find that one copy of CENP-A, H2A, H2B, and H4 coexist in CENP-A nucleosomes, in which internal C-terminal domains are accessible. Our observations indicate that CENP-A nucleosomes are organized as asymmetric heterotypic tetramers, rather than canonical octamers. Such altered nucleosomes form a chromatin fiber with distinct folding characteristics, which we utilize to discriminate tetramers directly within bulk chromatin. We discuss implications of our observations in the context of universal epigenetic and mechanical requirements for functional centromeres.
Project description:The epigenetic mark of the centromere is thought to be a unique centromeric nucleosome that contains the histone H3 variant, centromere protein-A (CENP-A). The deposition of new centromeric nucleosomes requires the CENP-A-specific chromatin assembly factor HJURP (Holliday junction recognition protein). Crystallographic and biochemical data demonstrate that the Scm3-like domain of HJURP binds a single CENP-A-histone H4 heterodimer. However, several lines of evidence suggest that HJURP forms an octameric CENP-A nucleosome. How an octameric CENP-A nucleosome forms from individual CENP-A/histone H4 heterodimers is unknown. Here, we show that HJURP forms a homodimer through its C-terminal domain that includes the second HJURP_C domain. HJURP exists as a dimer in the soluble preassembly complex and at chromatin when new CENP-A is deposited. Dimerization of HJURP is essential for the deposition of new CENP-A nucleosomes. The recruitment of HJURP to centromeres occurs independent of dimerization and CENP-A binding. These data provide a mechanism whereby the CENP-A pre-nucleosomal complex achieves assembly of the octameric CENP-A nucleosome through the dimerization of the CENP-A chaperone HJURP.
Project description:The centromere is the locus on the chromosome that acts as the essential connection point between the chromosome and the mitotic spindle. A histone H3 variant, CENP-A, defines the location of the centromere, but centromeric chromatin consists of a mixture of both CENP-A-containing and H3-containing nucleosomes. We report a surprisingly uniform pattern of primarily monomethylation on lysine 20 of histone H4 present in short polynucleosomes mixtures of CENP-A and H3 nucleosomes isolated from functional centromeres. Canonical H3 is not a component of CENP-A-containing nucleosomes at centromeres, so the H3 we copurify from these preparations comes exclusively from adjacent nucleosomes. We find that CENP-A-proximal H3 nucleosomes are not uniformly modified but contain a complex set of PTMs. Dually modified K9me2-K27me2 H3 nucleosomes are observed at the centromere. Side-chain acetylation of both histone H3 and histone H4 is low at the centromere. Prior to assembly at centromeres, newly expressed CENP-A is sequestered for a large portion of the cell cycle (late S-phase, G2, and most of mitosis) in a complex that contains its partner, H4, and its chaperone, HJURP. In contrast to chromatin associated centromeric histone H4, we show that prenucleosomal CENP-A-associated histone H4 lacks K20 methylation and contains side-chain and ?-amino acetylation. We show HJURP displays a complex set of serine phosphorylation that may potentially regulate the deposition of CENP-A. Taken together, our findings provide key information regarding some of the key components of functional centromeric chromatin.
Project description:Centromeres are specified epigenetically through the deposition of the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENP-A. However, how additional epigenetic features are involved in centromere specification is unknown. Here, we find that histone H4 Lys5 and Lys12 acetylation (H4K5ac and H4K12ac) primarily occur within the pre-nucleosomal CENP-A-H4-HJURP (CENP-A chaperone) complex, before centromere deposition. We show that H4K5ac and H4K12ac are mediated by the RbAp46/48-Hat1 complex and that RbAp48-deficient DT40 cells fail to recruit HJURP to centromeres and do not incorporate new CENP-A at centromeres. However, C-terminally-truncated HJURP, that does not bind CENP-A, does localize to centromeres in RbAp48-deficient cells. Acetylation-dead H4 mutations cause mis-localization of the CENP-A-H4 complex to non-centromeric chromatin. Crucially, CENP-A with acetylation-mimetic H4 was assembled specifically into centromeres even in RbAp48-deficient DT40 cells. We conclude that H4K5ac and H4K12ac, mediated by RbAp46/48, facilitates efficient CENP-A deposition into centromeres.
Project description:The centromere is the specialized chromatin region that directs chromosome segregation. The kinetochore assembles on the centromere, attaching chromosomes to microtubules in mitosis. The centromere position is usually maintained through cell cycles and generations. However, new centromeres, known as neocentromeres, can occasionally form on ectopic regions when the original centromere is inactivated or lost due to chromosomal rearrangements. Centromere repositioning can occur during evolution. Moreover, de novo centromeres can form on exogenously transformed DNA in human cells at a low frequency, which then segregates faithfully as human artificial chromosomes (HACs). How centromeres are maintained, inactivated and activated is unclear. A conserved histone H3 variant, CENP-A, epigenetically marks functional centromeres, interspersing with H3. Several histone modifications enriched at centromeres are required for centromere function, but their role in new centromere formation is less clear. Studying the mechanism of new centromere formation has been challenging because these events are difficult to detect immediately, requiring weeks for HAC selection.DNA injected into the Caenorhabditis elegans gonad can concatemerize to form artificial chromosomes (ACs) in embryos, which first undergo passive inheritance, but soon autonomously segregate within a few cell cycles, more rapidly and frequently than HACs. Using this in vivo model, we injected LacO repeats DNA, visualized ACs by expressing GFP::LacI, and monitored equal AC segregation in real time, which represents functional centromere formation. Histone H3K9 and H4 acetylations are enriched on new ACs when compared to endogenous chromosomes. By fusing histone deacetylase HDA-1 to GFP::LacI, we tethered HDA-1 to ACs specifically, reducing AC histone acetylations, reducing AC equal segregation frequency, and reducing initial kinetochroe protein CENP-AHCP-3 and NDC-80 deposition, indicating that histone acetylations facilitate efficient centromere establishment. Similarly, inhibition of RNA polymerase II-mediated transcription also delays initial CENP-AHCP-3 loading.Acetylated histones on chromatin and transcription can create an open chromatin environment, enhancing nucleosome disassembly and assembly, and potentially contribute to centromere establishment. Alternatively, acetylation of soluble H4 may stimulate the initial deposition of CENP-AHCP-3-H4 nucleosomes. Our findings shed light on the mechanism of de novo centromere activation.
Project description:Eukaryotic chromosomes segregate by attaching to microtubules of the mitotic spindle through a chromosomal microtubule binding site called the kinetochore. Kinetochores assemble on a specialized chromosomal locus termed the centromere, which is characterized by the replacement of histone H3 in centromeric nucleosomes with the essential histone H3 variant CENP-A (centromere protein A). Understanding how CENP-A chromatin is assembled and maintained is central to understanding chromosome segregation mechanisms. CENP-A nucleosome assembly requires the Mis18 complex and the CENP-A chaperone HJURP. These factors localize to centromeres in telophase/G1, when new CENP-A chromatin is assembled. The mechanisms that control their targeting are unknown. In this paper, we identify a mechanism for recruiting the Mis18 complex protein M18BP1 to centromeres. We show that depletion of CENP-C prevents M18BP1 targeting to metaphase centromeres and inhibits CENP-A chromatin assembly. We find that M18BP1 directly binds CENP-C through conserved domains in the CENP-C protein. Thus, CENP-C provides a link between existing CENP-A chromatin and the proteins required for new CENP-A nucleosome assembly.