Dynamic condensation of linker histone C-terminal domain regulates chromatin structure.
ABSTRACT: The basic and intrinsically disordered C-terminal domain (CTD) of the linker histone (LH) is essential for chromatin compaction. However, its conformation upon nucleosome binding and its impact on chromatin organization remain unknown. Our mesoscale chromatin model with a flexible LH CTD captures a dynamic, salt-dependent condensation mechanism driven by charge neutralization between the LH and linker DNA. Namely, at low salt concentration, CTD condenses, but LH only interacts with the nucleosome and one linker DNA, resulting in a semi-open nucleosome configuration; at higher salt, LH interacts with the nucleosome and two linker DNAs, promoting stem formation and chromatin compaction. CTD charge reduction unfolds the domain and decondenses chromatin, a mechanism in consonance with reduced counterion screening in vitro and phosphorylated LH in vivo. Divalent ions counteract this decondensation effect by maintaining nucleosome stems and expelling the CTDs to the fiber exterior. Additionally, we explain that the CTD folding depends on the chromatin fiber size, and we show that the asymmetric structure of the LH globular head is responsible for the uneven interaction observed between the LH and the linker DNAs. All these mechanisms may impact epigenetic regulation and higher levels of chromatin folding.
Project description:The linker histone (LH), an auxiliary protein that can bind to chromatin and interact with the linker DNA to form stem motifs, is a key element of chromatin compaction. By affecting the chromatin condensation level, it also plays an active role in gene expression. However, the presence and variable concentration of LH in chromatin fibers with different DNA linker lengths indicate that its folding and condensation are highly adaptable and dependent on the immediate nucleosome environment. Recent experimental studies revealed that the behavior of LH in mononucleosomes markedly differs from that in small nucleosome arrays, but the associated mechanism is unknown. Here we report a structural analysis of the behavior of LH in mononucleosomes and oligonucleosomes (2-6 nucleosomes) using mesoscale chromatin simulations. We show that the adapted stem configuration heavily depends on the strength of electrostatic interactions between LH and its parental DNA linkers, and that those interactions tend to be asymmetric in small oligonucleosome systems. Namely, LH in oligonucleosomes dominantly interacts with one DNA linker only, as opposed to mononucleosomes where LH has similar interactions with both linkers and forms a highly stable nucleosome stem. Although we show that the LH condensation depends sensitively on the electrostatic interactions with entering and exiting DNA linkers, other interactions, especially by nonparental cores and nonparental linkers, modulate the structural condensation by softening LH and thus making oligonucleosomes more flexible, in comparison to to mono- and dinucleosomes. We also find that the overall LH/chromatin interactions sensitively depend on the linker length because the linker length determines the maximal nucleosome stem length. For mononucleosomes with DNA linkers shorter than LH, LH condenses fully, while for DNA linkers comparable or longer than LH, the LH extension in mononucleosomes strongly follows the length of DNA linkers, unhampered by neighboring linker histones. Thus, LH is more condensed for mononucleosomes with short linkers, compared to oligonucleosomes, and its orientation is variable and highly environment-dependent. More generally, the work underscores the agility of LH whose folding dynamics critically controls genomic packaging and gene expression.
Project description:Linker histones are an integral component of chromatin but how these proteins promote assembly of chromatin fibers and higher order structures and regulate gene expression remains an open question. Using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) approaches we find that association of a linker histone with oligonucleosomal arrays induces condensation of the intrinsically disordered H1 CTD in a manner consistent with adoption of a defined fold or ensemble of folds in the bound state. However, H1 CTD structure when bound to nucleosomes in arrays is distinct from that induced upon H1 association with mononucleosomes or bare double stranded DNA. Moreover, the H1 CTD becomes more condensed upon condensation of extended nucleosome arrays to the contacting zig-zag form found in moderate salts, but does not detectably change during folding to fully compacted chromatin fibers. We provide evidence that linker DNA conformation is a key determinant of H1 CTD structure and that constraints imposed by neighboring nucleosomes cause linker DNAs to adopt distinct trajectories in oligonucleosomes compared to H1-bound mononucleosomes. Finally, inter-molecular FRET between H1s within fully condensed nucleosome arrays suggests a regular spatial arrangement for the H1 CTD within the 30 nm chromatin fiber.
Project description:Chromatin fibers encountered in various species and tissues are characterized by different nucleosome repeat lengths (NRLs) of the linker DNA connecting the nucleosomes. While single cellular organisms and rapidly growing cells with high protein production have short NRL ranging from 160 to 189 bp, mature cells usually have longer NRLs ranging between 190 and 220 bp. Recently, various experimental studies have examined the effect of NRL on the internal organization of chromatin fiber. Here, we investigate by mesoscale modeling of oligonucleosomes the folding patterns for different NRL, with and without linker histone (LH), under typical monovalent salt conditions using both one-start solenoid and two-start zigzag starting configurations. We find that short to medium NRL chromatin fibers (173 to 209 bp) with LH condense into zigzag structures and that solenoid-like features are viable only for longer NRLs (226 bp). We suggest that medium NRLs are more advantageous for packing and various levels of chromatin compaction throughout the cell cycle than their shortest and longest brethren; the former (short NRLs) fold into narrow fibers, while the latter (long NRLs) arrays do not easily lead to high packing ratios due to possible linker DNA bending. Moreover, we show that the LH has a small effect on the condensation of short-NRL arrays but has an important condensation effect on medium-NRL arrays, which have linker lengths similar to the LH lengths. Finally, we suggest that the medium-NRL species, with densely packed fiber arrangements, may be advantageous for epigenetic control because their histone tail modifications can have a greater effect compared to other fibers due to their more extensive nucleosome interaction network.
Project description:Several different models of the linker histone (LH)-nucleosome complex have been proposed, but none of them has unambiguously revealed the position and binding sites of the LH on the nucleosome. Using Brownian dynamics-based docking together with normal mode analysis of the nucleosome to account for the flexibility of two flanking 10 bp long linker DNAs (L-DNA), we identified binding modes of the H5-LH globular domain (GH5) to the nucleosome. For a wide range of nucleosomal conformations with the L-DNA ends less than 65 Å apart, one dominant binding mode was identified for GH5 and found to be consistent with fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) experiments. GH5 binds asymmetrically with respect to the nucleosomal dyad axis, fitting between the nucleosomal DNA and one of the L-DNAs. For greater distances between L-DNA ends, docking of GH5 to the L-DNA that is more restrained and less open becomes favored. These results suggest a selection mechanism by which GH5 preferentially binds one of the L-DNAs and thereby affects DNA dynamics and accessibility and contributes to formation of a particular chromatin fiber structure. The two binding modes identified would, respectively, favor a tight zigzag chromatin structure or a loose solenoid chromatin fiber.
Project description:The complex role of linker histone (LH) on chromatin compaction regulation has been highlighted by recent discoveries of the effect of LH binding variability and isoforms on genome structure and function. Here we examine the effect of two LH variants and variable binding modes on the structure of chromatin fibers. Our mesoscale modeling considers oligonucleosomes with H1C and H1E, bound in three different on and off-dyad modes, and spanning different LH densities (0.5-1.6 per nucleosome), over a wide range of physiologically relevant nucleosome repeat lengths (NRLs). Our studies reveal an LH-variant and binding-mode dependent heterogeneous ensemble of fiber structures with variable packing ratios, sedimentation coefficients, and persistence lengths. For maximal compaction, besides dominantly interacting with parental DNA, LHs must have strong interactions with nonparental DNA and promote tail/nonparental core interactions. An off-dyad binding of H1E enables both; others compromise compaction for bendability. We also find that an increase of LH density beyond 1 is best accommodated in chromatosomes with one on-dyad and one off-dyad LH. We suggest that variable LH binding modes and concentrations are advantageous, allowing tunable levels of chromatin condensation and DNA accessibility/interactions. Thus, LHs add another level of epigenetic regulation of chromatin.
Project description:Human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) immediate early 1 (IE1) protein associates with condensed chromatin of the host cell during mitosis. We have determined the structure of the chromatin-tethering domain (CTD) of IE1 bound to the nucleosome core particle, and discovered that IE1-CTD specifically interacts with the H2A-H2B acidic patch and impairs the compaction of higher-order chromatin structure. Our results suggest that IE1 loosens up the folding of host chromatin during hCMV infections.
Project description:The length of linker DNA that separates nucleosomes is highly variable, but its mechanistic role in modulating chromatin structure and functions remains unknown. Here, we established an experimental system using circular arrays of positioned nucleosomes to investigate whether variations in nucleosome linker length could affect nucleosome folding, self-association, and interactions. We conducted EM, DNA topology, native electrophoretic assays, and Mg2+-dependent self-association assays to study intrinsic folding of linear and circular nucleosome arrays with linker DNA length of 36 bp and 41 bp (3.5 turns and 4 turns of DNA double helix, respectively). These experiments revealed that potential artifacts arising from open DNA ends and full DNA relaxation in the linear arrays do not significantly affect overall chromatin compaction and self-association. We observed that the 0.5 DNA helical turn difference between the two DNA linker lengths significantly affects DNA topology and nucleosome interactions. In particular, the 41-bp linkers promoted interactions between any two nucleosome beads separated by one bead as expected for a zigzag fiber, whereas the 36-bp linkers promoted interactions between two nucleosome beads separated by two other beads and also reduced negative superhelicity. Monte Carlo simulations accurately reproduce periodic modulations of chromatin compaction, DNA topology, and internucleosomal interactions with a 10-bp periodicity. We propose that the nucleosome spacing and associated chromatin structure modulations may play an important role in formation of different chromatin epigenetic states, thus suggesting implications for how chromatin accessibility to DNA-binding factors and the RNA transcription machinery is regulated.
Project description:Linker DNA conformational variability has been proposed to direct nucleosome array folding into more or less compact chromatin fibers but direct experimental evidence for such models are lacking. Here, we tested this hypothesis by designing nucleosome arrays with A-tracts at specific locations in the nucleosome linkers to induce inward (AT-IN) and outward (AT-OUT) bending of the linker DNA. Using electron microscopy and analytical centrifugation techniques, we observed spontaneous folding of AT-IN nucleosome arrays into highly compact structures, comparable to those induced by linker histone H1. In contrast, AT-OUT nucleosome arrays formed less compact structures with decreased nucleosome interactions similar to wild-type nucleosome arrays. Adding linker histone H1 further increased compaction of the A-tract arrays while maintaining structural differences between them. Furthermore, restriction nuclease digestion revealed a strongly reduced accessibility of nucleosome linkers in the compact AT-IN arrays. Electron microscopy analysis and 3D computational Monte Carlo simulations are consistent with a profound zigzag linker DNA configuration and closer nucleosome proximity in the AT-IN arrays due to inward linker DNA bending. We propose that the evolutionary preferred positioning of A-tracts in DNA linkers may control chromatin higher-order folding and thus influence cellular processes such as gene expression, transcription and DNA repair.
Project description:Linker histone (LH) proteins play a key role in higher-order structuring of chromatin for the packing of DNA in eukaryotic cells and in the regulation of genomic function. The common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) has a single somatic isoform of the LH (H1). It is thus a useful model organism for investigating the effects of the LH on nucleosome compaction and the structure of the chromatosome, the complex formed by binding of an LH to a nucleosome. The structural and mechanistic details of how LH proteins bind to nucleosomes are debated. Here, we apply Brownian dynamics simulations to compare the nucleosome binding of the globular domain of D. melanogaster H1 (gH1) and the corresponding chicken (Gallus gallus) LH isoform, gH5, to identify residues in the LH that critically affect the structure of the chromatosome. Moreover, we investigate the effects of posttranslational modifications on the gH1 binding mode. We find that certain single-point mutations and posttranslational modifications of the LH proteins can significantly affect chromatosome structure. These findings indicate that even subtle differences in LH sequence can significantly shift the chromatosome structural ensemble and thus have implications for chromatin structure and transcriptional regulation.
Project description:We present a Monte Carlo model for genome folding at the 30-nm scale with focus on linker-histone and nucleosome depletion effects. We find that parameter distributions from experimental data do not lead to one specific chromatin fiber structure, but instead to a distribution of structures in the chromatin phase diagram. Depletion of linker histones and nucleosomes affects, massively, the flexibility and the extension of chromatin fibers. Increasing the amount of nucleosome skips (i.e., nucleosome depletion) can lead either to a collapse or to a swelling of chromatin fibers. These opposing effects are discussed and we show that depletion effects may even contribute to chromatin compaction. Furthermore, we find that predictions from experimental data for the average nucleosome skip rate lie exactly in the regime of maximum chromatin compaction. Finally, we determine the pair distribution function of chromatin. This function reflects the structure of the fiber, and its Fourier-transform can be measured experimentally. Our calculations show that even in the case of fibers with depletion effects, the main dominant peaks (characterizing the structure and the length scales) can still be identified.