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Nature. 2013 Apr 18;496(7445):377-81. doi: 10.1038/nature12032. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

A conformational switch in HP1 releases auto-inhibition to drive heterochromatin assembly.

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1
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California San Francisco, California 94158, USA.

Abstract

A hallmark of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9)-methylated heterochromatin, conserved from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe to humans, is its ability to spread to adjacent genomic regions. Central to heterochromatin spread is heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1), which recognizes H3K9-methylated chromatin, oligomerizes and forms a versatile platform that participates in diverse nuclear functions, ranging from gene silencing to chromosome segregation. How HP1 proteins assemble on methylated nucleosomal templates and how the HP1-nucleosome complex achieves functional versatility remain poorly understood. Here we show that binding of the key S. pombe HP1 protein, Swi6, to methylated nucleosomes drives a switch from an auto-inhibited state to a spreading-competent state. In the auto-inhibited state, a histone-mimic sequence in one Swi6 monomer blocks methyl-mark recognition by the chromodomain of another monomer. Auto-inhibition is relieved by recognition of two template features, the H3K9 methyl mark and nucleosomal DNA. Cryo-electron-microscopy-based reconstruction of the Swi6-nucleosome complex provides the overall architecture of the spreading-competent state in which two unbound chromodomain sticky ends appear exposed. Disruption of the switch between the auto-inhibited and spreading-competent states disrupts heterochromatin assembly and gene silencing in vivo. These findings are reminiscent of other conditionally activated polymerization processes, such as actin nucleation, and open up a new class of regulatory mechanisms that operate on chromatin in vivo.

PMID:
23485968
PMCID:
PMC3907283
DOI:
10.1038/nature12032
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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