The structure of the FANCM-MHF complex reveals physical features for functional assembly

Nat Commun. 2012 Apr 17;3:782. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1779.


Fanconi anaemia is a rare genetic disease characterized by chromosomal instability and cancer susceptibility. The Fanconi anaemia complementation group protein M (FANCM) forms an evolutionarily conserved DNA-processing complex with MHF1/MHF2 (histone-fold-containing proteins), which is essential for DNA repair in response to genotoxic stress. Here we present the crystal structures of the MHF1-MHF2 complex alone and bound to a fragment of FANCM (FANCM(661-800), designated FANCM-F). The structures show that MHF1 and MHF2 form a compact tetramer to which FANCM-F binds through a 'dual-V' shaped structure. FANCM-F and (MHF1-MHF2)(2) cooperate to constitute a new DNA-binding site that is coupled to the canonical L1L2 region. Perturbation of the MHF-FANCM-F structural plasticity changes the localization of FANCM in vivo. The MHF-FANCM interaction and its subcellular localization are altered by a disease-associated mutant of FANCM. These findings reveal the molecular basis of MHF-FANCM recognition and provide mechanistic insights into the pathway leading to Fanconi anaemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / chemistry*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • DNA Helicases / chemistry*
  • DNA Helicases / genetics
  • DNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fanconi Anemia / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / chemistry*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • CENPS protein, human
  • CENPX protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • FANCM protein, human
  • DNA Helicases

Associated data

  • PDB/4DRA
  • PDB/4DRB