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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Jan 20;95(2):492-8.

Architectural DNA binding by a high-mobility-group/kinesin-like subunit in mammalian SWI/SNF-related complexes.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University, CA 94305-5323, USA.


The SWI/SNF complex in yeast and Drosophila is thought to facilitate transcriptional activation of specific genes by antagonizing chromatin-mediated transcriptional repression. The mechanism by which it is targeted to specific genes is poorly understood and may involve direct DNA binding and/or interactions with specific or general transcription factors. We have previously purified a mammalian complex by using antibodies against BRG1, a human homologue of SWI2/SNF2. This complex is likely functionally related to the yeast SWI/SNF complex because all five subunit identified so far (referred to as BAFs, for BRG1-associated factors) are homologues of the yeast SWI/SNF subunits. However, we now describe the cloning of the 57-kDa subunit (BAF57), which is present only in higher eukaryotes but not in yeast. BAF57 is shared by all mammalian complexes and contains a high-mobility-group (HMG) domain adjacent to a kinesin-like region. Both recombinant BAF57 and the whole complex bind four-way junction (4WJ) DNA, which is thought to mimic the topology of DNA as it enters or exits the nucleosome. Surprisingly, complexes with mutations in the HMG domain of BAF57 can still bind 4WJ DNA and mediate ATP-dependent nucleosome disruption. Our work describes the first DNA binding subunit for SWI/SNF-like complexes and suggest that the mechanism by which mammalian and Drosophila SWI/SNF-like complexes interact with chromatin may involve recognition of higher-order chromatin structure by two or more DNA binding domains.

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