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On the structure and dynamics of the complex of the nucleosome and the linker histone

Nucleic Acids Research
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkr101
  • Structural Biology


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.

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