The '30-nm' chromatin fibers, as observed in eukaryotic nuclei, are considered a discrete level in a hierarchy of DNA folding. At present, there is considerable debate as to how the nucleosomes and linker DNA are organized within chromatin fibers, and a number of models have been proposed, many of which are based on helical symmetry and imply specific contacts between nucleosomes. However, when observed in nuclei or after isolation, chromatin fibers show considerable structural irregularity. In the present study, chromatin folding is considered solely in terms of the known properties of the nucleosome-linker unit, taking into account the relative rotation between consecutive nucleosomes that results from the helical twist of DNA. Model building based on this premise, and with a constant length of linker DNA between consecutive nucleosomes, results in a family of fiber- and ribbon- like structures. When the linker length between nucleosomes is allowed to vary, as occurs in nature, fibers showing the types of irregularity observed in nuclei and in isolated chromatin are created. The potential application of the model in determining the three-dimensional organization of chromatin in which nucleosome positions are known is discussed.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 1993|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes