Huang J, Tan S
Piccolo NuA4 is an essential yeast histone acetyltransferase (HAT) complex that targets histones H4 and H2A in nucleosome substrates. While Piccolo NuA4's catalytic subunit Esa1 alone is unable to acetylate nucleosomal histones, its accessory subunits, Yng2 and Epl1, enable Esa1 to bind to and to act on nucleosomes. We previously determined that the Tudor domain of Esa1 and the EPcA homology domain of Epl1 play critical roles in Piccolo NuA4's ability to act on the nucleosome. In this work, we pinpoint a loop within the Esa1 Tudor domain, and a short basic region at the N-terminus of the Epl1 EPcA domain as necessary for this nucleosomal HAT activity. We also show that this Esa1 Tudor domain loop region is positioned close to nucleosomal DNA and that the Epl1 EPcA basic region is in proximity to the N-terminal histone H2A tail, the globular region of histone H4 and also to nucleosomal DNA when Piccolo NuA4 interacts with the nucleosome. Since neither regions identified is required for Piccolo NuA4 to bind to nucleosomes and yet both are needed to acetylate nucleosomes, these regions may function after the enzyme binds nucleosomes to disengage substrate histone tails from nucleosomal DNA.