For those old-school scientists who are still using erector sets and Lincoln logs to model the interactions between histone tails and proteins, we’ve found a new interactive tool that’ll bring your histone analysis into the 21st century.
A team from the Structural Genomics Consortium (a collaboration between the University of Oxford and the University of Toronto) have created the The Structural Genomics of Histone Tails web server, a resource that brings together all of the available structural data about histone-protein complexes in one place, and paired it with a high quality 3D graphical interface that would make Avatar jealous.
The clever crew at SGC figured that their creation might be a welcome sight for epigeneticists studying histone binding. “I was surprised to see how specific mechanisms underlying histone tail recognition (such as electronegative patches, or contribution of an arginine flanking the post-translation mark) were shared among some readers or writers of the histone code, but not others. I realized that a technology published last year to visualize macromolecular structures would be helpful to organize and analyze the data. As the resource grew, we became convinced that it could be useful to many in the field, and decided to make it available to all.” University of Toronto’s Matthieu Schapira explains.
Currently, 47 histone–protein complexes are in the database, each organized into “articles” with interactive 3D slides that show:
- The protein surface with bound histone
- An overall topology of the structure
- The hydrogen bonds between histone and recognition site
- The molecular surface of binding site and bound histone tail
- A color-coded amino acid sequence
“Each mini-article describes general features, as well as atomic details of the histone-protein interaction, and should be of interest to seasoned structural biologists, medicinal chemists, as well as scientists in epigenetic signaling who want to know which residue to mutate in their next experiment.” Says Schapira.
Find links to this and other Epigenetics Tools and Databases on our site.
Don’t waste time chasing your histone tail; get the full specs at Bioinformatics, September 2010.