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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Feb;40(4):1475-84. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr866. Epub 2011 Oct 22.

DNA and nucleosomes direct distinct folding of a linker histone H1 C-terminal domain.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14625, USA.


We previously documented condensation of the H1 CTD consistent with adoption of a defined structure upon nucleosome binding using a bulk FRET assay, supporting proposals that the CTD behaves as an intrinsically disordered domain. In the present study, by determining the distances between two different pairs of sites in the C-terminal domain of full length H1 by FRET, we confirm that nucleosome binding directs folding of the disordered H1 C-terminal domain and provide additional distance constraints for the condensed state. In contrast to nucleosomes, FRET observed upon H1 binding to naked DNA fragments includes both intra- and inter-molecular resonance energy transfer. By eliminating inter-molecular transfer, we find that CTD condensation induced upon H1-binding naked DNA is distinct from that induced by nucleosomes. Moreover, analysis of fluorescence quenching indicates that H1 residues at either end of the CTD experience distinct environments when bound to nucleosomes, and suggest that the penultimate residue in the CTD (K195) is juxtaposed between the two linker DNA helices, proposed to form a stem structure in the H1-bound nucleosome.

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