A basic motif anchoring ISWI to nucleosome acidic patch regulates nucleosome spacing.
Recent studies have implicated the nucleosome acidic patch in the activity of ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling machines. We used a photocrosslinking-based nucleosome profiling technology (photoscanning) to identify a conserved basic motif within the catalytic subunit of ISWI remodelers, SNF2h, which engages this nucleosomal epitope. This region of SNF2h is essential for chromatin remodeling activity in a reconstituted biochemical system and in cells. Our studies suggest that the basic motif in SNF2h plays a critical role in anchoring the remodeler to the nucleosomal surface. We also examine the functional consequences of several cancer-associated histone mutations that map to the nucleosome acidic patch. Kinetic studies using physiologically relevant heterotypic nucleosomal substrates ('Janus' nucleosomes) indicate that these cancer-associated mutations can disrupt regularly spaced chromatin structure by inducing ISWI-mediated unidirectional nucleosome sliding. These results indicate a potential mechanistic link between oncogenic histones and alterations to the chromatin landscape.