A global transcriptional co-activator, the SNF/SWI complex, has been characterized as a chromatin remodeling factor that enhances accessibility of the transcriptional machinery to DNA within a repressive chromatin structure. On the other hand, mutations in some human SNF/SWI complex components have been linked to tumor formation. We show here that SYT, a partner protein generating the synovial sarcoma fusion protein SYT-SSX, associates with native human SNF/SWI complexes. The SYT protein has a unique QPGY domain, which is also present in the largest subunits, p250 and the newly identified homolog p250R, of the corresponding SNF/SWI complexes. The C-terminal region (amino acids 310-387) of SSX1, comprising the SSX1 portion of the SYT-SSX1 fusion protein, binds strongly to core histones and oligonucleosomes in vitro and directs nuclear localization of a green fluorescence protein fusion protein. Experiments with serial C-terminal deletion mutants of SSX1 indicate that these properties map to a common region and also correlate with the previously demonstrated anchorage-independent colony formation activity of SYT-SSX in Rat 3Y1 cells. These data suggest that SYT-SSX interferes with the function of either the SNF/SWI complexes or another SYT-interacting co-activator, p300, by changing their targeted localization or by directly inhibiting their chromatin remodeling activities.
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