Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Bartholomew, Blaine


AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF SOLOMON G. HAILU, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Biochemistry, presented on August 22, 2017, at Southern Illinois University, School of Medicine. TITLE: DISTINCT GENOME WIDE FUNCTIONS OF CHROMATIN REMODELERS IN NUCLEOSOME ORGANIZATION AND TRANSCRIPTION REGULATION MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Blaine Bartholomew Chromatin remodelers are conserved from yeast to humans and are the gatekeepers of chromatin. They regulate transcription by occluding or exposing DNA regulatory elements globally. They are crucial for DNA processes such as DNA replication, repair and recombination. In addition, they are critical in developmental processes and differentiation. Chromatin remodelers are categorized into several families based on their conserved ATPase domain, an essential component required for their DNA translocation ability. In this study, we investigated the role yeast ISWI and SWI/SNF family of chromatin remodelers play on nucleosome rearrangement and transcription regulation by targeted mutagenesis of domains in accessory subunits and at the C-terminus of the catalytic subunit. All members of the ISWI family (ISW1a, ISW1b, ISW2) share a conserved C-terminal HAND, SANT and SLIDE domains, which are important for sensing linker DNA. We find an auto-regulation of ISWI complexes by the SLIDE domain, independent of the histone H4 Nterminal tail. Our protein-protein chemical crosslinking and mass spectrometry (CX-MS) analysis indicate that the SLIDE domain regulates the ATPase core through N terminal domains of the accessory subunit Itc1. Moreover, we show that the accessory subunits of ISWI modulate the ATPase activity and specificity of ISWI complexes. The DNA sensing ability of the SLIDE domain is required for the in vivo nucleosome spacing and transcription regulation by ISWI. We find that while ISW2 primarily regulates transcription at the 5’ end of genes, ISW1a is important in transcription elongation by rearranging nucleosomes starting at the +2 nucleosome and through the rest of the body of genes towards the 3’ end. ISW1b on the other hand rearrange nucleosomes in the gene body to facilitate suppression of cryptic transcription. For the first time, we show the potential division of labor between ISW1a and ISW1b during transcription elongation. On the other hand, SWI/SNF chromatin remodelers are essential epigenetic factors that are frequently mutated in cancer and neurological disorders. They harbor a C-terminal SnAC and AT hook domains that positively regulate their DNA dependent ATPase activity and nucleosome mobilizing capabilities. By deleting the AT hook motifs, we have identified the role of SWI/SNF in organizing the -1 and +1 nucleosomes at transcription start sites flanking the nucleosome free region (NFR). Our RNA-seq analysis shows SWI/SNF positively regulates the bi-directional transcription of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) which are activated when the AT hook motifs are deleted. Moreover, AT hooks regulate such activities of SWI/SNF through direct protein-protein interactions with the ATPase core as evidenced by our chemical crosslinking and mass spectrometry (CX-MS) analysis.




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