Nuclear DNA wraps around core histones to form nucleosomes, which restricts the binding of transcription factors to gene regulatory sequences. Pioneer transcription factors can bind DNA sites on nucleosomes and initiate gene regulatory events, often leading to the local opening of chromatin. However, the nucleosomal configuration of open chromatin and the basis for its regulation is unclear. We combined low and high levels of micrococcal nuclease (MNase) digestion along with core histone mapping to assess the nucleosomal configuration at enhancers and promoters in mouse liver. We find that MNase-accessible nucleosomes, bound by transcription factors, are retained more at liver-specific enhancers than at promoters and ubiquitous enhancers. The pioneer factor FoxA displaces linker histone H1, thereby keeping enhancer nucleosomes accessible in chromatin and allowing other liver-specific transcription factors to bind and stimulate transcription. Thus, nucleosomes are not exclusively repressive to gene regulation when they are retained with, and exposed by, pioneer factors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology