Coactivator complexes SAGA and NuA4 stimulate transcription by post-translationally modifying chromatin. Both complexes contain the Tra1 subunit, a highly conserved 3744-residue protein from the Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase-related kinase (PIKK) family and a direct target for multiple sequence-specific activators. We present the Cryo-EM structure of Saccharomyces cerevsisae Tra1 to 3.7 Å resolution, revealing an extensive network of alpha-helical solenoids organized into a diamond ring conformation and is strikingly reminiscent of DNA-PKcs, suggesting a direct role for Tra1 in DNA repair. The structure was fitted into an existing SAGA EM reconstruction and reveals limited contact surfaces to Tra1, hence it does not act as a molecular scaffold within SAGA. Mutations that affect activator targeting are distributed across the Tra1 structure, but also cluster within the N-terminal Finger region, indicating the presence of an activator interaction site. The structure of Tra1 is a key milestone in deciphering the mechanism of multiple coactivator complexes.
Keywords: NuA4; PIKK; S. cerevisiae; SAGA; biophysics; chromatin; chromosomes; coactivator; genes; structural biology; transcription activation.