Single-Molecule Observation Reveals Spontaneous Protein Dynamics in the Nucleosome

Jongseong Kim, Sijie Wei, Jaehyoun Lee, Hongjun Yue, Tae Hee Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Structural dynamics of a protein molecule is often critical to its function. Single-molecule methods provide efficient ways to investigate protein dynamics, although it is very challenging to achieve a millisecond or higher temporal resolution. Here we report spontaneous structural dynamics of the histone protein core in the nucleosome based on a single-molecule method that can reveal submillisecond dynamics by combining maximum likelihood estimation and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. The nucleosome, comprising â147 bp DNA and an octameric histone protein core consisting of H2A, H2B, H3, and H4, is the fundamental packing unit of the eukaryotic genome. The nucleosome imposes a physical barrier that should be overcome during various DNA-templated processes. Structural fluctuation of the nucleosome in the histone core has been hypothesized to be required for nucleosome disassembly but has yet to be directly probed. Our results indicate that at 100 mM NaCl the histone H2A-H2B dimer dissociates from the histone core transiently once every 3.6 ± 0.6 ms and returns to its position within 2.0 ± 0.3 ms. We also found that the motion is facilitated upon H3K56 acetylation and inhibited upon replacing H2A with H2A.Z. These results provide the first direct examples of how a localized post-translational modification or an epigenetic variation affects the kinetic and thermodynamic stabilities of a macromolecular protein complex, which may directly contribute to its functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8925-8931
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number34
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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