Indexed on: 17 Dec '04Published on: 17 Dec '04Published in: Molecular and cellular biology
Reconstitution of a DNA fragment containing a 5S RNA gene from Xenopus borealis into a nucleosome greatly restricts binding of the primary 5S transcription factor, TFIIIA. Consistent with transcription experiments using reconstituted templates, removal of the histone tail domains stimulates TFIIIA binding to the 5S nucleosome greater than 100-fold. However, we show that tail removal increases the probability of 5S DNA unwrapping from the core histone surface by only approximately fivefold. Moreover, using site-specific histone-to-DNA cross-linking, we show that TFIIIA binding neither induces nor requires nucleosome movement. Binding studies with COOH-terminal deletion mutants of TFIIIA and 5S nucleosomes reconstituted with native and tailless core histones indicate that the core histone tail domains play a direct role in restricting the binding of TFIIIA. Deletion of only the COOH-terminal transcription activation domain dramatically stimulates TFIIIA binding to the native nucleosome, while further C-terminal deletions or removal of the tail domains does not lead to further increases in TFIIIA binding. We conclude that the unmodified core histone tail domains directly negatively influence TFIIIA binding to the nucleosome in a manner that requires the C-terminal transcription activation domain of TFIIIA. Our data suggest an additional mechanism by which the core histone tail domains regulate the binding of trans-acting factors in chromatin.