The phosphorylation of histone variant H2AX at DNA double-strand breaks is believed to be critical for recognition and repair of DNA damage. However, little is known about the molecular mechanism regulating the exchange of variant H2AX with conventional H2A in the context of the nucleosome. Here, we isolate the H2AX-associated factors, which include FACT (Spt16/SSRP1), DNA-PK, and PARP1 from a human cell line. Our analyses demonstrate that the H2AX-associated factors efficiently promote both integration and dissociation of H2AX and this exchange reaction is mainly catalyzed by FACT among the purified factors. The phosphorylation of H2AX by DNA-PK facilitates the exchange of nucleosomal H2AX by inducing conformational changes of the nucleosome. In contrast, poly-ADP-ribosylation of Spt16 by PARP1 significantly inhibits FACT activities for H2AX exchange. Thus, these data establish FACT as the major regulator involved in H2AX exchange process that is modulated by H2AX phosphorylation and Spt16 ADP-ribosylation.
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