The Sir1 protein's association with a silenced chromosome domain.
Silencing of the cryptic mating-type locus HMR requires recognition of a small DNA sequence element, the HMR-E silencer, by the Sir1p, one of four Sir proteins required for the assembly of silenced chromatin domains in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The Sir1p recognizes the silencer through interactions with the origin recognition complex (ORC), a protein complex that binds the silencer DNA directly. Sir1p was physically associated with HMR in chromatin, and this association required a Sir1p-ORC interaction, suggesting that it reflected the Sir1p silencer-recognition function required for silencing. Sir1p was not associated with nonsilencer replication origins that bind the ORC, indicating that a Sir1p-ORC interaction is confined to silencers. Significantly, the other SIR genes were required for Sir1p's association with HMR. Thus, multiple protein contacts required for and unique to silent chromatin may confine a Sir1p-ORC interaction to silencers. The Sir1p was present at extremely low concentrations in yeast cells yet was associated with HMR at all stages of the cell cycle examined. These data provide insights into the mechanisms that establish and restrict the assembly of silenced chromatin to only a few discrete chromosomal domains.