Role of histone tails in nucleosome remodeling by Drosophila NURF

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The Drosophila nucleosome remodeling factor NURF utilizes the energy of ATP hydrolysis to perturb the structure of nucleosomes and facilitate binding of transcription factors. The ATPase activity of purified NURF is stimulated significantly more by nucleosomes than by naked DNA or histones alone, suggesting that NURF is able to recognize specific features of the nucleosome. Here, we show that the interaction between NURF and nucleosomes is impaired by proteolytic removal of the N‐terminal histone tails and by chemical cross‐linking of nucleosomal histones. The ATPase activity of NURF is also competitively inhibited by each of the four Drosophila histone tails expressed as GST fusion proteins. A similar inhibition is observed for a histone H4 tail substituted with glutamine at four conserved, acetylatable lysines. These findings indicate a novel role for the flexible histone tails in chromatin remodeling by NURF, and this role may, in part, be independent of histone acetylation.


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