Histone H3 tail modifications regulate structure and dynamics of the H1 C-terminal domain within nucleosomes

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Despite their importance, how linker histone H1s interact in chromatin and especially how the highly positively charged and intrinsically disordered H1 C-terminal domain (CTD) binds and stabilizes nucleosomes and higher-order chromatin structures remains unclear. Using single-molecule FRET we found that about half of the H1 CTDs in H1-nucleosome complexes exhibit well-defined FRET values indicative of distinct, static conformations, while the remainder of the population exhibits dynamically changing values, similar to that observed for H1 in the absence of nucleosomes. We also find that the first 30 residues of the CTD participate in relatively localized interactions with the first ∼20 bp of linker DNA, and that two separate regions in the CTD contribute to H1-dependent organization of linker DNA, consistent with some non-random CTD-linker DNA interactions. Finally, our data show that acetylation mimetics within the histone H3 tail induce decondensation and enhanced dynamics of the nucleosome-bound H1 CTD. (148 words)

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