Interphase eukaryotic nuclei contain diffuse euchromatin and condensed heterochromatin. Current textbook models suggest that chromatin condensation occurs via accordion-type compaction of nucleosome zigzag chains. Recent studies have revealed several structural aspects that distinguish the highly compact state of condensed heterochromatin. These include an extensive lateral self-association of chromatin fibers, prominent nucleosome linker 'stems', and special protein factors that promote chromatin self-association. Here I review the molecular and structural determinants of chromatin compaction and discuss how heterochromatin spreading may be mediated by lateral self-association of zigzag nucleosome arrays.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology