Cryo-EM has revealed the structures of many challenging yet exciting macromolecular assemblies at near-atomic resolution (3-4.5Å), providing biological phenomena with molecular descriptions. However, at these resolutions accurately positioning individual atoms remains challenging and error-prone. Manually refining thousands of amino acids - typical in a macromolecular assembly - is tedious and time-consuming. We present an automated method that can improve the atomic details in models manually built in near-atomic-resolution cryo-EM maps. Applying the method to three systems recently solved by cryo-EM, we are able to improve model geometry while maintaining the fit-to-density. Backbone placement errors are automatically detected and corrected, and the refinement shows a large radius of convergence. The results demonstrate the method is amenable to structures with symmetry, of very large size, and containing RNA as well as covalently bound ligands. The method should streamline the cryo-EM structure determination process, providing accurate and unbiased atomic structure interpretation of such maps.
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Axel T Brunger, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University, United States
© 2016, Wang et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Genome and epigenome integrity in eukaryotes depends on the proper coupling of histone deposition with DNA synthesis. This process relies on the evolutionary conserved histone chaperone CAF-1 for which the links between structure and functions are still a puzzle. While studies of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae CAF-1 complex enabled to propose a model for the histone deposition mechanism, we still lack a framework to demonstrate its generality and in particular, how its interaction with the polymerase accessory factor PCNA is operating. Here, we reconstituted a complete SpCAF-1 from fission yeast. We characterized its dynamic structure using NMR, SAXS and molecular modeling together with in vitro and in vivo functional studies on rationally designed interaction mutants. Importantly, we identify the unfolded nature of the acidic domain which folds up when binding to histones. We also show how the long KER helix mediates DNA binding and stimulates SpCAF-1 association with PCNA. Our study highlights how the organization of CAF-1 comprising both disordered regions and folded modules enables the dynamics of multiple interactions to promote synthesis-coupled histone deposition essential for its DNA replication, heterochromatin maintenance, and genome stability functions.
Histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) play a critical role in chromatin regulation. It has been proposed that these PTMs form localized ‘codes’ that are read by specialized regions (reader domains) in chromatin-associated proteins (CAPs) to regulate downstream function. Substantial effort has been made to define [CAP: histone PTM] specificities, and thus decipher the histone code and guide epigenetic therapies. However, this has largely been done using the reductive approach of isolated reader domains and histone peptides, which cannot account for any higher-order factors. Here, we show that the [BPTF PHD finger and bromodomain: histone PTM] interaction is dependent on nucleosome context. The tandem reader selectively associates with nucleosomal H3K4me3 and H3K14ac or H3K18ac, a combinatorial engagement that despite being in cis is not predicted by peptides. This in vitro specificity of the BPTF tandem reader for PTM-defined nucleosomes is recapitulated in a cellular context. We propose that regulatable histone tail accessibility and its impact on the binding potential of reader domains necessitates we refine the ‘histone code’ concept and interrogate it at the nucleosome level.