Chromatin Remodeling Complexes: RSC

Chromatin remodeling complexes (remodelers) are large, multisubunit macromolecular assemblies that utilize ATP hydrolysis to alter the structure and positioning of nucleosomes. The mechanisms proposed for remodeler action on nucleosomes are diverse, and require structural evaluation and insights. RSC movie Previous reconstructions of remodelers using electron microscopy revealed interesting features, but also significant discrepancies, prompting new approaches. We have devised a novel Orthogonal Tilt Reconstruction method for single particle 3D reconstruction, which is well suited to heterogeneous samples, and used it to provide a new reconstruction of the yeast RSC complex. We were able to reveal two interesting features: first, we observed a deep central cavity within RSC, displaying a remarkable surface complementarity for the nucleosome. Second, we were able to visualize two distinct RSC conformers, revealing a major conformational change in a large protein 'arm' which may shift to further envelop the nucleosome. Our structures provide both support and challenges for present models of nucleosome sliding. The shape of the deep cavity and its remarkable fit to the nucleosome sets limits on the size of DNA waves/loops that can be propagated along the entire length of the nucleosome and suggests that very small loops are likely the primary intermediate for the sliding reaction.