Structural cooperativity in histone H3 tail modifications



Post-translational modifications of histone H3 tails have crucial roles in regulation of cellular processes. There is cross-regulation between the modifications of K4, K9, and K14 residues. The modifications on these residues drastically promote or inhibit each other. In this work, we studied the structural changes of the histone H3 tail originating from the three most important modifications; tri-methylation of K4 and K9, and acetylation of K14. We performed extensive molecular dynamics simulations of four types of H3 tails: (i) the unmodified H3 tail having no chemical modification on the residues, (ii) the tri-methylated lysine 4 and lysine 9 H3 tail (K4me3K9me3), (iii) the tri-methylated lysine 4 and acetylated lysine 14 H3 tail (K4me3K14ace), and (iv) tri-methylated lysine 9 and acetylated lysine 14 H3 tail (K9me3K14ace). Here, we report the effects of K4, K9, and K14 modifications on the backbone torsion angles and relate these changes to the recognition and binding of histone modifying enzymes. According to the Ramachandran plot analysis; (i) the dihedral angles of K4 residue are significantly affected by the addition of three methyl groups on this residue regardless of the second modification, (ii) the dihedral angle values of K9 residue are similarly altered majorly by the tri-methylation of K4 residue, (iii) different combinations of modifications (tri-methylation of K4 and K9, and acetylation of K14) have different influences on phi and psi values of K14 residue. Finally, we discuss the consequences of these results on the binding modes and specificity of the histone modifying enzymes such as DIM-5, GCN5, and JMJD2A.