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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 20;104(12):4913-8. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

Conformational flexibility in the chromatin remodeler RSC observed by electron microscopy and the orthogonal tilt reconstruction method.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Chromatin remodeling complexes (remodelers) are large, multisubunit macromolecular assemblies that use ATP hydrolysis to alter the structure and positioning of nucleosomes. The mechanisms proposed for remodeler action on nucleosomes are diverse, and require structural evaluation and insights. Previous reconstructions of remodelers using electron microscopy revealed interesting features, but also significant discrepancies, prompting new approaches. Here, we use the orthogonal tilt reconstruction method, which is well suited for heterogeneous samples, to provide a reconstruction of the yeast RSC (remodel the structure of chromatin) complex. Two interesting features are revealed: first, we observe a deep central cavity within RSC, displaying a remarkable surface complementarity for the nucleosome. Second, we are able to visualize two distinct RSC conformers, revealing a major conformational change in a large protein "arm," which may shift to further envelop the nucleosome. We present a model of the RSC-nucleosome complex that rationalizes the single molecule results obtained by using optical tweezers and also discuss the mechanistic implications of our structures.

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