The nucleosome, comprising a histone protein core wrapped around by DNA, is the fundamental packing unit of DNA in cells. Lysine acetylation at the histone core elevates DNA accessibility in the nucleosome, the mechanism of which remains largely unknown. By employing our recently developed hybrid single molecule approach, here we report how the structural dynamics of DNA in the nucleosome is altered upon acetylation at histone H3 lysine 56 (H3K56) that is critical for elevated DNA accessibility. Our results indicate that H3K56 acetylation facilitates the structural dynamics of the DNA at the nucleosome termini that spontaneously and repeatedly open and close on a ms time scale. The results support a molecular mechanism of histone acetylation in catalyzing DNA unpacking whose efficiency is ultimately limited by the spontaneous DNA dynamics at the nucleosome temini. This study provides the first and unique experimental evidence revealing a role of protein chemical modification in directly regulating the kinetic stability of the DNA packing unit.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry