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Identification of Functionally Conserved Regions in the Structure of the Chaperone/CenH3/H4 Complex

Hong, Jingjun, Feng, Hanqiao, Zhou, Zheng, Ghirlando, Rodolfo, Bai, Yawen
Journal of Molecular Biology 2013 v.425 pp. 536-545
DNA, Kluyveromyces marxianus var. lactis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, centromeres, eukaryotic cells, histones, humans, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, site-directed mutagenesis, yeasts
In eukaryotes, a variant of conventional histone H3 termed CenH3 epigenetically marks the centromere. The conserved CenH3 chaperone specifically recognizes CenH3 and is required for CenH3 deposition at the centromere. Recently, the structures of the chaperone/CenH3/H4 complexes have been determined for Homo sapiens (Hs) and the budding yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Sc) and Kluyveromyces lactis (Kl). Surprisingly, the three structures are very different, leading to different proposed structural bases for chaperone function. The question of which structural region of CenH3 provides the specificity determinant for the chaperone recognition is not fully answered. Here, we investigated these issues using solution NMR and site-directed mutagenesis. We discovered that, in contrast to previous findings, the structures of the Kl and Sc chaperone/CenH3/H4 complexes are actually very similar. This new finding reveals that both budding yeast and human chaperones use a similar structural region to block DNA from binding to the histones. Our mutational analyses further indicate that the N-terminal region of the CenH3 α2 helix is sufficient for specific recognition by the chaperone for both budding yeast and human. Thus, our studies have identified conserved structural bases of how the chaperones recognize CenH3 and perform the chaperone function.