The previously identified LRS (Loss of rDNA Silencing) domain of the nucleosome is critically important for silencing at both ribosomal DNA and telomeres. To understand the function of the LRS surface in silencing, we performed an EMS mutagenesis screen to identify suppressors of the H3 A75V LRS allele. We identified dominant and recessive mutations in histones H3, H4, and dominant mutations in the BAH (Bromo Adjacent Homology) domain of SIR3. We further characterized a surface of Sir3p critical for silencing via the LRS surface. We found that all alleles of the SIR3 BAH domain were able to 1) generally suppress the loss of telomeric silencing of LRS alleles, but 2) could not suppress SIN (Swi/Snf Independent) alleles or 3) could not suppress the telomeric silencing defect of H4 tail alleles. Moreover, we noticed a complementary trend in the electrostatic changes resulting from most of the histone mutations that gain or lose silencing and the suppressor alleles isolated in SIR3, and the genes for histones H3 and H4. Mutations in H3 and H4 genes that lose silencing tend to make the LRS surface more electronegative, whereas mutations that increase silencing make it less electronegative. Conversely, suppressors of LRS alleles in either SIR3, histone H3, or H4 also tend to make their respective surfaces less electronegative. Our results provide genetic evidence for recent data suggesting that the Sir3p BAH domain directly binds the LRS domain. Based on these findings, we propose an electrostatic model for how an extensive surface on the Sir3p BAH domain may regulate docking onto the LRS surface.
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