The nucleosome repeating unit of chromatin is the target of chromatin enzymes and factors that regulate gene activity in a eukaryotic cell. How the nucleosome is recognized by chromatin enzymes and factors is poorly understood, even though such interaction is fundamental to gene regulation and chromatin biology. My laboratory recently determined the structural basis for how the RCC1 (regulator of chromosome condensation 1) chromatin factor binds to the nucleosome, including the first atomic crystal structure of a chromatin protein complexed with the nucleosome core particle. I describe here how we developed and investigated structural models for RCC1 binding to the nucleosome using biochemical methods and how we crystallized the 300 kDa complex of RCC1 with the nucleosome core particle. This article highlights the contributions made by key laboratory members and explains our thinking and rationale during the discovery process.
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