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Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Apr;42(7):4318-31. doi: 10.1093/nar/gku090. Epub 2014 Feb 3.

DAXX co-folds with H3.3/H4 using high local stability conferred by the H3.3 variant recognition residues.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Graduate Program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6059, USA and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge CB2 0QH, UK.


Histone chaperones are a diverse class of proteins that facilitate chromatin assembly. Their ability to stabilize highly abundant histone proteins in the cellular environment prevents non-specific interactions and promotes nucleosome formation, but the various mechanisms for doing so are not well understood. We now focus on the dynamic features of the DAXX histone chaperone that have been elusive from previous structural studies. Using hydrogen/deuterium exchange coupled to mass spectrometry (H/DX-MS), we elucidate the concerted binding-folding of DAXX with histone variants H3.3/H4 and H3.2/H4 and find that high local stability at the variant-specific recognition residues rationalizes its known selectivity for H3.3. We show that the DAXX histone binding domain is largely disordered in solution and that formation of the H3.3/H4/DAXX complex induces folding and dramatic global stabilization of both histone and chaperone. Thus, DAXX uses a novel strategy as a molecular chaperone that paradoxically couples its own folding to substrate recognition and binding. Further, we propose a model for the chromatin assembly reaction it mediates, including a stepwise folding pathway that helps explain the fidelity of DAXX in associating with the H3.3 variant, despite an extensive and nearly identical binding surface on its counterparts, H3.1 and H3.2.

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