Nucleosome positioning in relation to nucleosome spacing and DNA sequence-specific binding of a protein

Rama Haritha Pusarla, Vinesh Vinayachandran, Purnima Bhargava

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Nucleosome positioning is an important mechanism for the regulation of eukaryotic gene expression. Folding of the chromatin fiber can influence nucleosome positioning, whereas similar electrostatic mechanisms govern the nucleosome repeat length and chromatin fiber folding in vitro. The position of the nucleosomes is directed either by the DNA sequence or by the boundaries created due to the binding of certain trans-acting factors to their target sites in the DNA. Increasing ionic strength results in an increase in nucleosome spacing on the chromatin assembled by the S-190 extract of Drosophila embryos. In this study, a mutant lac repressor protein R3 was used to find the mechanisms of nucleosome positioning on a plasmid with three R3-binding sites. With increasing ionic strength in the presence of R3, the number of positioned nucleosomes in the chromatin decreased, whereas the internucleosomal spacings of the positioned nucleosomes in a single register did not change. The number of the positioned nucleosomes in the chromatin assembled in vitro over different plasmid DNAs with 1-3 lac operators changed with the relative position and number of the R3-binding sites. We found that in the presence of R3, nucleosomes were positioned in the salt gradient method of the chromatin assembly, even in the absence of a nucleosome-positioning sequence. Our results show that nucleosome-positioning mechanisms are dominant, as the nucleosomes can be positioned even in the absence of regular spacing mechanisms. The protein-generated boundaries are more effective when more than one binding site is present with a minimum distance of ∼165 bp, greater than the nucleosome core DNA length, between them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2396-2410
Number of pages15
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2007


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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