The protein UHRF1 is crucial for DNA methylation maintenance. The tandem Tudor domain (TTD) of UHRF1 binds histone H3K9me2/3 with micromolar affinity, as well as unmethylated linker regions within UHRF1 itself, causing auto-inhibition. Recently, we showed that a methylated histone-like region of DNA ligase 1 (LIG1K126me2/me3) binds the UHRF1 TTD with nanomolar affinity, permitting UHRF1 recruitment to chromatin. Here we report the crystal structure of the UHRF1 TTD bound to a LIG1K126me3 peptide. The data explain the basis for the high TTD-binding affinity of LIG1K126me3 and reveal that the interaction may be regulated by phosphorylation. Binding of LIG1K126me3 switches the overall structure of UHRF1 from a closed to a flexible conformation, suggesting that auto-inhibition is relieved. Our results provide structural insight into how UHRF1 performs its key function in epigenetic maintenance.
Keywords: DNA methylation; Tudor domain; UHRF1; X-ray crystallography; chromatin; lysine methylation; small-angle X-ray scattering.
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