Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Lewis, Edwin A.

Committee Member

Emerson, Joseph P.

Committee Member

Fitzkee, Nicholas

Committee Member

Gwaltney, Steven R.

Committee Member

Rowland, Gerald

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Chemistry


Linker histones (H1) are the basic proteins in higher eukaryotes that are responsible for the final condensation of chromatin. H1 also plays an important role in regulating gene expression. H1 has been described as a transcriptional repressor as it limits the access of transcriptional factors to DNA. Linker histone binds to DNA that enters or exits the nucleosome. Several crystal structures have been published for the nucleosome (histone core/DNA complex), and the interactions of the core histone proteins with DNA are well understood. In contrast the location of the linker histone and its interactions with ds-DNA are poorly understood. In this study we have used isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and CD spectropolarimetry to determine the thermodynamic signatures and structural changes that accompany H1 binding to ds-DNA. The thermodynamic parameters for the binding of intact linker histones (H1.1, H1.4, and H10) to highly polymerized calf-thymus DNA and to short double stranded DNA oligomers have been determined. We have also determined the thermodynamics for binding of H10 C-terminal tail (H10-C) and globular domain (H10-G) to calf-thymus DNA. The real surprise in the energetics is that the enthalpy change for formation of the H1/DNA complex is very unfavorable and that H1/DNA complex formation is driven by very large positive changes in entropy. The binding site sizes for H1.1, H1.4, and H10 were determined to be 36bp, 32bp, and 36bp respectively. CD results indicate that CT-DNA is restructured upon complexation with either the full length H1 protein (H10) or its C-terminal domain (H10-C). In contrast, the structure of H10 is largely unchanged in the DNA complex. Temperature dependence of enthalpy change, osmotic stress and ionic strength dependence of Ka were tested using ITC. These results indicate that the entropy driven H1/DNA complexes are a result primarily from the expulsion of bound water molecules from the binding interface. This study provides new insights into the binding of linker Histone H1 to DNA. A better understanding of the functional properties of H1 and its interactions with DNA could provide new insights in understanding the role H1 in DNA condensation and transcriptional regulation.