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  1. Abstract Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is a histone methyltransferase that methylates histone H3 at Lysine 27. PRC2 is critical for epigenetic gene silencing, cellular differentiation and the formation of facultative heterochromatin. It can also promote or inhibit oncogenesis. Despite this importance, the molecular mechanisms by which PRC2 compacts chromatin are relatively understudied. Here, we visualized the binding of PRC2 to naked DNA in liquid at the single-molecule level using atomic force microscopy. Analysis of the resulting images showed PRC2, consisting of five subunits (EZH2, EED, SUZ12, AEBP2 and RBBP4), bound to a 2.5-kb DNA with an apparent dissociation constant ($K_{\rm{D}}^{{\rm{app}}}$) of 150 ± 12 nM. PRC2 did not show sequence-specific binding to a region of high GC content (76%) derived from a CpG island embedded in such a long DNA substrate. At higher concentrations, PRC2 compacted DNA by forming DNA loops typically anchored by two or more PRC2 molecules. Additionally, PRC2 binding led to a 3-fold increase in the local bending of DNA’s helical backbone without evidence of DNA wrapping around the protein. We suggest that the bending and looping of DNA by PRC2, independent of PRC2’s methylation activity, may contribute to heterochromatin formation and therefore epigenetic gene silencing.
  2. Abstract

    The CST complex (CTC1-STN1-TEN1) has been shown to inhibit telomerase extension of the G-strand of telomeres and facilitate the switch to C-strand synthesis by DNA polymerase alpha-primase (pol α-primase). Recently the structure of human CST was solved by cryo-EM, allowing the design of mutant proteins defective in telomeric ssDNA binding and prompting the reexamination of CST inhibition of telomerase. The previous proposal that human CST inhibits telomerase by sequestration of the DNA primer was tested with a series of DNA-binding mutants of CST and modeled by a competitive binding simulation. The DNA-binding mutants had substantially reduced ability to inhibit telomerase, as predicted from their reduced affinity for telomeric DNA. These results provide strong support for the previous primer sequestration model. We then tested whether addition of CST to an ongoing processive telomerase reaction would terminate DNA extension. Pulse-chase telomerase reactions with addition of either wild-type CST or DNA-binding mutants showed that CST has no detectable ability to terminate ongoing telomerase extension in vitro. The same lack of inhibition was observed with or without pol α-primase bound to CST. These results suggest how the switch from telomerase extension to C-strand synthesis may occur.

  3. The CTC1-STN1-TEN1 (CST) complex is essential for telomere maintenance and resolution of stalled replication forks genome-wide. Here, we report the 3.0-angstrom cryo–electron microscopy structure of human CST bound to telomeric single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), which assembles as a decameric supercomplex. The atomic model of the 134-kilodalton CTC1 subunit, built almost entirely de novo, reveals the overall architecture of CST and the DNA-binding anchor site. The carboxyl-terminal domain of STN1 interacts with CTC1 at two separate docking sites, allowing allosteric mediation of CST decamer assembly. Furthermore, ssDNA appears to staple two monomers to nucleate decamer assembly. CTC1 has stronger structural similarity to Replication Protein A than the expected similarity to yeast Cdc13. The decameric structure suggests that CST can organize ssDNA analogously to the nucleosome’s organization of double-stranded DNA.