Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Phosphorylation of linker histones by DNA-dependent protein kinase is required for DNA ligase IV-dependent ligation in the presence of histone H1.

PMID 15671175


DNA nonhomologous end-joining in vivo requires the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) and DNA ligase IV/XRCC4 (LX) complexes. Here, we have examined the impact of histone octamers and linker histone H1 on DNA end-joining in vitro. Packing of the DNA substrate into dinucleosomes does not significantly inhibit ligation by LX. However, LX ligation activity is substantially reduced by the incorporation of linker histones. This inhibition is independent of the presence of core histone octamers and cannot be restored by addition of Ku alone but can be partially rescued by DNA-PK. The kinase activity of DNA-PK is essential for the recovery of end-joining. DNA-PK efficiently phosphorylates histone H1. Phosphorylated histone H1 has a reduced affinity for DNA and a decreased capacity to inhibit end-joining. Our findings raise the possibility that DNA-PK may act as a linker histone kinase by phosphorylating linker histones in the vicinity of a DNA break and coupling localized histone H1 release from DNA ends, with the recruitment of LX to carry out double-stranded ligation. Thus, by using histone H1-bound DNA as a template, we have reconstituted the end-joining step of DNA nonhomologous end-joining in vitro with a requirement for DNA-PK.

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HIST-RO Histone H1, from calf thymus