University of Dundee

First sight of chromatin organising enzyme in action.

24 Mar 2017

Researchers, including those from Professor Tom Owen-Hughes lab in GRE, have recently published a study which visualises the complex interactions of the molecular machines that control chromatin organisation. The research utilised data collected from the Schools’ newly established cryo-electron microscopy facility, which opens the possibility to other scientists to use this technology for their own research. 

The packaging of DNA in eukaryotic cells is precisely regulated so that DNA is accessible when required.  ATP-dependent motor proteins play an important role in this process, but little is known about how they achieve this. This study, recently published in the journal eLife, the technique of single particle cryo-electron microscopy has been used to obtain the structure of a chromatin remodelling motor associated with a nucleosome. This shows how both the enzyme and the nucleosome are reconfigured during chromatin remodelling.

Although the work involves the use of a range of experimental techniques assisted by a team of researchers from five universities spread across the world, it is the first publication to arise from the newly established cryo-electron microscopy facility in Dundee. Single particle cryo-electron microscopy allows the structure of complex marcromolecules to be viewed with high precision. Senior author, Prof Tom Owen-Hughes said “To some extent seeing is believing, and we hope that other researchers in Dundee will now be encouraged to apply this approach to study other biological systems”. First author Ramasubramanian Sundaramoorthy said “It has been quite an adventure learning how to apply cryo-electron microscopy to these motor proteins. Things are developing very rapidly. This means there is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the molecular machines such as those that regulate chromatin.

To read more about the research, please read the publication at the following link:

https://elifesciences.org/content/6/e22510

Image: Dr Ramasubramanian Sundaramoorthy and a nucleosome bound by the chromatin remodelling enzyme Chd1.

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