The structure of the core NuRD repression complex provides insights into its interaction with chromatin
Christopher J Millard Niranjan Varma Almutasem Saleh Kyle Morris Peter J Watson Andrew R Bottrill Louise Fairall Corinne J Smith John WR Schwabe
University of Leicester, United Kingdom; University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Published April 21, 2016 Cite as eLife 2016;5:e13941
The NuRD complex is a multi-protein transcriptional corepressor that couples histone deacetylase and ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling activities. The complex regulates the higher-order structure of chromatin, and has important roles in the regulation of gene expression, DNA damage repair and cell differentiation. HDACs 1 and 2 are recruited by the MTA1 corepressor to form the catalytic core of the complex. The histone chaperone protein RBBP4, has previously been shown to bind to the carboxy-terminal tail of MTA1. We show that MTA1 recruits a second copy of RBBP4. The crystal structure reveals an extensive interface between MTA1 and RBBP4. An EM structure, supported by SAXS and crosslinking, reveals the architecture of the dimeric HDAC1:MTA1:RBBP4 assembly which forms the core of the NuRD complex. We find evidence that in this complex RBBP4 mediates interaction with histone H3 tails, but not histone H4, suggesting a mechanism for recruitment of the NuRD complex to chromatin.
The correct regulation of our genes is essential for life. Genes are actively switched on or off through the action of assemblies of proteins that act together as molecular machines. Some of these machines alter the way that DNA is packaged inside cells. Packaged DNA – called chromatin – consists of DNA wrapped around proteins called histones, which together form structures called nucleosomes. Changing how tightly nucleosomes are packed together can alter whether a gene is active: tighter packing makes it harder to access the genes in that stretch of DNA and therefore inactivates them.
In humans, an assembly of proteins called the NuRD complex makes chromatin more compact by removing acetyl groups from nucleosomes. This complex is important for early development and for the stability and repair of our genes. Three proteins make up its core: HDAC1, which removes the acetyl group from the nucleosome; MTA1, which acts as a scaffold to hold the complex together; and RBBP4, which enables the complex to interact with nucleosomes.
Understanding how protein complexes are assembled tells us a lot about how they work. Millard et al. have therefore used a number of structural techniques to investigate the three-dimensional architecture of the three core proteins in the NuRD complex. The resulting structures have revealed how the HDAC1, MTA1 and RBBP4 proteins interact to influence how the complex is recruited to nucleosomes. The next step will be to assemble all the remaining proteins of the NuRD complex to understand its architecture as a whole.
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