The SWI-SNF complex has been shown to alter nucleosome conformation in an ATP-dependent manner, leading to increased accessibility of nucleosomal DNA to transcription factors. In this study, we show that the SWI-SNF complex can potentiate the activity of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) through the N-terminal transactivation domain, tau1, in both yeast and mammalian cells. GR-tau1 can directly interact with purified SWI-SNF complex, and mutations in tau1 that affect the transactivation activity in vivo also directly affect tau1 interaction with SWI-SNF. Furthermore, the SWI-SNF complex can stimulate tau1-driven transcription from chromatin templates in vitro. Taken together, these results support a model in which the GR can directly recruit the SWI-SNF complex to target promoters during glucocorticoid-dependent gene activation. We also provide evidence that the SWI-SNF and SAGA complexes represent independent pathways of tau1-mediated activation but play overlapping roles that are able to compensate for one another under some conditions.
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