Barrier-to-autointegration factor: Major roles in chromatin decondensation and nuclear assembly

Miriam Segura-Totten, Amy K. Kowalski, Robert Craigie, Katherine L. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Barrier-to-autointegration factor (BAF) is a DNA-bridging protein, highly conserved in metazoans. BAF binds directly to LEM (LAP2, emerin, MAN1) domain nuclear membrane proteins, including LAP2 and emerin. We used site-directed mutagenesis and biochemical analysis to map functionally important residues in human BAF, including those required for direct binding to DNA or emerin. We also tested wild-type BAF and 25 point mutants for their effects on nuclear assembly in Xenopus egg extracts, which contain ∼12 μM endogenous BAF dimers. Exogenous BAF caused two distinct effects: at low added concentrations, wild-type BAF enhanced chromatin decondensation and nuclear growth; at higher added concentrations, wild-type BAF completely blocked chromatin decondensation and nuclear growth. Mutants fell into four classes, including one that defines a novel functional surface on the BAF dimer. Our results suggest that BAF, unregulated, potently compresses chromatin structure, and that BAF interactions with both DNA and LEM proteins are critical for membrane recruitment and chromatin decondensation during nuclear assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-485
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Emerin
  • HIV
  • Nuclear envelope
  • Nucleus
  • Retroviral preintegration complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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