Alteration of chromatin structure by chromatin modifying and remodelling activities is a key stage in the regulation of many nuclear processes. These activities are frequently interlinked, and many chromatin remodelling enzymes contain motifs that recognise modified histones. Here we adopt a peptide ligation strategy to generate specifically modified chromatin templates and used these to study the interaction of the Chd1, Isw2 and RSC remodelling complexes with differentially acetylated nucleosomes. Specific patterns of histone acetylation are found to alter the rate of chromatin remodelling in different ways. For example, histone H3 lysine 14 acetylation acts to increase recruitment of the RSC complex to nucleosomes. However, histone H4 tetra-acetylation alters the spectrum of remodelled products generated by increasing octamer transfer in trans. In contrast, histone H4 tetra-acetylation was also found to reduce the activity of the Chd1 and Isw2 remodelling enzymes by reducing catalytic turnover without affecting recruitment. These observations illustrate a range of different means by which modifications to histones can influence the action of remodelling enzymes.
Histone; Acetylation; Snf2; Nucleosome; Chromatin
DNA packaging into chromatin imposes several levels of regulation on the central nuclear processes of DNA replication, recombination, repair and transcription. ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling enzymes play a critical role in this regulation by altering the accessibility of nucleosomal DNA. Remodeling can result in large-scale changes in chromatin, such as the formation of heterochromatin, or smaller changes in exposure or occlusion of specific DNA regions. To understand the mechanisms of chromatin remodeling, we report a FRET-based method to follow remodeling of a single histone octamer on DNA. This technique provides a non-perturbing, solution-based approach to quantitatively track the movement of DNA with respect to the octamer in real-time. The method can easily be altered to examine other conformational changes within the nucleosome, and is applicable to study the enzymatic activity of several classes of chromatin-remodeling complexes.
chromatin; ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling; nucleosome; FRET; histone; real-time; SNF2h
Human SWI/SNF (hSWI/SNF) is an evolutionarily conserved ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complex required for transcriptional regulation and cell cycle control. The regulatory functions of hSWI/SNF are correlated with its ability to create a stable, altered form of chromatin that constrains fewer negative supercoils than normal. Our current studies indicate that this change in supercoiling is due to the conversion of up to one-half of the nucleosomes on polynucleosomal arrays into asymmetric structures, termed “altosomes,” each composed of two histone octamers and bearing an asymmetrically located region of nuclease-accessible DNA. Altosomes can be formed on chromatin containing the abundant mammalian linker histone H1 and have a unique micrococcal nuclease digestion footprint that allows their position and abundance on any DNA sequence to be measured. Over time, altosomes spontaneously revert to structurally normal but improperly positioned nucleosomes, suggesting a novel mechanism for transcriptional attenuation as well as transcriptional memory following hSWI/SNF action.
Nucleosome positioning plays a major role in controlling the accessibility of DNA to transcription factors and other nuclear processes. Nucleosome positions after assembly are at least partially determined by the relative affinity of DNA sequences for the histone octamer. Nucleosomes can be moved, however, by a class of ATP dependent chromatin remodeling complexes. We recently showed that the human SWI/SNF remodeling complex moves nucleosomes in a sequence specific manner, away from nucleosome positioning sequences (NPSes). Here, we compare the repositioning specificity of five remodelers of diverse biological functions (hSWI/SNF, the SNF2h ATPase and the hACF, CHRAC and WICH complexes than each contain SNF2h) on 5S rDNA, MMTV and 601 NPS polynucleosomal templates. We find that all five remodelers act similarly to reduce nucleosome occupancy over the strongest NPSes, an effect that could directly contribute to the function of WICH in activating 5S rDNA transcription. While some differences were observed between complexes, all five remodelers were found to result in surprisingly similar nucleosome distributions. This suggests that remodeling complexes may share a conserved repositioning specificity, and that their divergent biological functions may largely arise from other properties conferred by complex-specific subunits.
SWI-SNF is an ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complex that disrupts DNA-histone interactions. Several studies of SWI-SNF activity on mononucleosome substrates have suggested that remodeling leads to novel, accessible nucleosomes which persist in the absence of continuous ATP hydrolysis. In contrast, we have reported that SWI-SNF-dependent remodeling of nucleosomal arrays is rapidly reversed after removal of ATP. One possibility is that these contrasting results are due to the different assays used; alternatively, the lability of the SWI-SNF-remodeled state might be different on mononucleosomes versus nucleosomal arrays. To investigate these possibilities, we use a coupled SWI-SNF remodeling–restriction enzyme assay to directly compare the remodeling of mononucleosome and nucleosomal array substrates. We find that SWI-SNF action causes a mobilization of histone octamers for both the mononucleosome and nucleosomal array substrates, and these changes in nucleosome positioning persist in the absence of continued ATP hydrolysis or SWI-SNF binding. In the case of mononucleosomes, the histone octamers accumulate at the DNA ends even in the presence of continued ATP hydrolysis. On nucleosomal arrays, SWI-SNF and ATP lead to a more dynamic state where nucleosomes appear to be constantly redistributed and restriction enzyme sites throughout the array have increased accessibility. This random positioning of nucleosomes within the array persists after removal of ATP, but inactivation of SWI-SNF is accompanied by an increased occlusion of many restriction enzyme sites. Our results also indicate that remodeling of mononucleosomes or nucleosomal arrays does not lead to an accumulation of novel nucleosomes that maintain an accessible state in the absence of continuous ATP hydrolysis.
ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complexes, such as RSC, can reposition, evict or restructure nucleosomes. A structure of a RSC–nucleosome complex with a nucleosome determined by cryo-EM shows the nucleosome bound in a central RSC cavity. Extensive interaction of RSC with histones and DNA seems to destabilize the nucleosome and lead to an overall ATP-independent rearrangement of its structure. Nucleosomal DNA appears disordered and largely free to bulge out into solution as required for remodeling, but the structure of the RSC–nucleosome complex indicates that RSC is unlikely to displace the octamer from the nucleosome to which it is bound. Consideration of the RSC–nucleosome structure and published biochemical information suggests that ATP-dependent DNA translocation by RSC may result in the eviction of histone octamers from adjacent nucleosomes.
RSC, an essential chromatin remodeling complex in budding yeast, is involved in a variety of biological processes including transcription, recombination, repair and replication. How RSC participates in such diverse processes is not fully understood. In vitro, RSC uses ATP to carry out several seemingly distinct reactions: it repositions nucleosomes, transfers H2A/H2B dimers between nucleosomes and transfers histone octamers between pieces of DNA. This raises the intriguing mechanistic question of how this molecular machine can use a single ATPase subunit to create these varied products. Here, we use a FRET-based approach to kinetically order the products of the RSC reaction. Surprisingly, transfer of H2A/H2B dimers and histone octamers is initiated on a time scale of seconds when assayed by FRET, but formation of stable nucleosomal products occurs on a time scale of minutes when assayed by native gel. These results suggest a model in which RSC action rapidly generates an unstable encounter intermediate that contains the two exchange substrates in close proximity. This intermediate then collapses more slowly to form the stable transfer products seen on native gels. The rapid, biologically relevant time scale on which the transfer products are generated implies that such products can play key roles in vivo.
Chromatin remodeling complexes help regulate the structure of chromatin to facilitate transcription. The multisubunit human (h) SWI-SNF complex has been shown to remodel mono- and polynucleosome templates in an ATP-dependent manner. The isolated hSWI-SNF ATPase subunits BRG1 and hBRM also have these activities. The intact complex has been shown to produce a stable remodeled dimer of mononucleosomes as a product. Here we show that the hSWI-SNF ATPases alone can also produce this product. In addition, we show that hSWI-SNF and its ATPases have the ability to transfer histone octamers from donor nucleosomes to acceptor DNA. These two reactions are characterized and compared. Our results are consistent with both products of SWI-SNF action being formed as alternative outcomes of a single remodeling mechanism. The ability of the isolated ATPase subunits to catalyze these reactions suggests that these subunits play a key role in determining the mechanistic capabilities of the SWI-SNF family of remodeling complexes.
The ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complex SWI/SNF regulates transcription and has been implicated in promoter nucleosome eviction. Efficient nucleosome disassembly by SWI/SNF alone in biochemical assays has however not been directly observed. Employing a model system of dinucleosomes rather than mononucleosomes, we demonstrate that remodeling leads to ordered and efficient disassembly of one of the two nucleosomes. An H2A/H2B dimer is first rapidly displaced and then in a slower reaction an entire histone octamer is lost. Nucleosome disassembly by SWI/SNF did not require additional factors such as chaperones or acceptors of histones. Observations in single molecules as well as bulk measurement suggest that a key intermediate in this process is one in which a nucleosome is moved towards the adjacent nucleosome. SWI/SNF recruited by the transcriptional activator Gal4-VP16 preferentially mobilizes the proximal nucleosome and destabilizes the adjacent nucleosome.
The Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene PHO5 is an excellent system with which to study regulated changes in chromatin structure. The PHO5 promoter is packaged into four positioned nucleosomes under repressing conditions; upon induction, the structure of these nucleosomes is altered such that the promoter DNA becomes accessible to nucleases. We report here the development and characterization of an in vitro system in which partially purified PHO5 minichromosomes undergo promoter chromatin remodeling. Several hallmarks of the PHO5 chromatin transition in vivo were reproduced in this system. Chromatin remodeling of PHO5 minichromosomes required the transcription factors Pho4 and Pho2, was localized to the promoter region of PHO5, and was independent of the chromatin-remodeling complex Swi-Snf. In vitro chromatin remodeling also required the addition of fractionated nuclear extract and hydrolyzable ATP. This in vitro system should serve as a useful tool for identifying the components required for this reaction and for elucidating the mechanism by which the PHO5 promoter chromatin structure is changed.
The precise placement of nucleosomes has large regulatory effects on gene expression. Recent work suggests that nucleosome placement is regulated in part by the affinity of the underlying DNA sequence for the histone octamer. Nucleosome locations are also regulated by several different ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling enzymes. This raises the question whether DNA sequence influences the activity of chromatin remodeling enzymes. DNA sequence could most simply regulate nucleosome remodeling through its effect on nucleosome stability. In such a model, unstable nucleosomes would be remodeled faster than stable nucleosomes. It is also possible that certain DNA elements could regulate remodeling by inhibiting the interaction of nucleosomes with the remodeling enzyme. A third possibility is that DNA sequence could regulate the outcome of remodeling by influencing how reaction intermediates collapse into a particular set of stable nucleosomal positions. Here we dissect the contribution from these potential mechanisms to the activities of yeast RSC and human ACF, which are representative members of two major classes of remodeling complexes. We find that varying the histone-DNA affinity over three orders of magnitude has negligible effects on the rates of nucleosome remodeling and ATP hydrolysis by these two enzymes. This suggests that the rate-limiting step for nucleosome remodeling may not involve the disruption of histone-DNA contacts. We further find that a specific curved DNA element previously hypothesized to inhibit ACF activity does not inhibit substrate binding or remodeling by ACF. The element however, does influence the distribution of nucleosome positions generated by ACF. Our data support a model in which remodeling enzymes move nucleosomes to new locations by a general sequence-independent mechanism. However, consequent to the rate-limiting remodeling step, the local DNA sequence promotes a collapse of remodeling intermediates into highly resolved positions that are dictated by thermodynamic differences between adjacent positions.
nucleosome positioning; histone-DNA affinity; chromatin remodeling; human ACF; RSC
In eukaryotic cells, packaging of DNA into highly condensed chromatin presents a significant obstacle to DNA-based processes. Cells use two major strategies including histone modifications and ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling to alter chromatin structure that allows protein factors to gain access to nucleosomal DNA. Beyond their well-established role in transcription, histone modifications and several classes of ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex have been functionally linked to efficient DNA repair. Mi-2/nucleosome remodeling and histone deacetylation (NuRD) complex uniquely possess both nucleosome remodeling and histone deacetylation activities, which play a vital role in regulating transcription. However, the role of the Mi-2/NuRD complex in DNA damage response remains largely unexplored until now. Recent findings reveal that metastasis-associated protein 1 (MTA1), an integral component of the Mi-2/NuRD complex, has successfully made inroads into DNA damage response pathway, and thus, links two previously unconnected Mi-2/NuRD complex and DNA damage response research areas. In this review, we will summarize recent progress concerning the functions of histone modifications and chromatin remodeling in DNA repair, and discuss new role of Mi-2/NuRD complex in DNA damage response.
Chromatin-remodeling complex; Histone modification; Acetylation and deacetylation; DNA repair; Mi-2/NuRD complex; MTA1
Chromatin assembly involves the combined action of histone chaperones and ATP-dependent motor proteins. Here we investigate the mechanism of nucleosome assembly with a purified chromatin assembly system containing the histone chaperone NAP1 and the ATP-dependent motor protein ACF. These studies revealed the rapid formation of a stable non-nucleosomal histone-DNA intermediate that is converted into canonical nucleosomes by ACF. The histone-DNA intermediate does not supercoil DNA like a canonical nucleosome, but has a nucleosome-like appearance by atomic force microscopy. This intermediate contains all four core histones, lacks NAP1, and is formed by the initial deposition of histones H3-H4. Conversion of the intermediate into histone H1-containing chromatin results in increased resistance to micrococcal nuclease digestion. These findings suggest that the histone-DNA intermediate corresponds to nascent nucleosome-like structures, such as those observed at DNA replication forks. Related complexes might be formed during other chromatin-directed processes such as transcription, DNA repair, and histone exchange.
ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes enable rapid rearrangements in chromatin structure in response to developmental cues. The ATPase subunits of remodeling complexes share homology with the helicase motifs of DExx box helicases. Recent single-molecule experiments indicate that, like helicases, many of these complexes use ATP to translocate on DNA. Despite sharing this fundamental property, two key classes of remodeling complexes, the ISWI class and the SWI/SNF class, generate distinct remodeled products. SWI/SNF complexes generate nucleosomes with altered positions, nucleosomes with DNA loops and nucleosomes that are capable of exchanging histone dimers or octamers. In contrast, ISWI complexes generate nucleosomes with altered positions but in standard structures. Here we draw analogies to monomeric and dimeric helicases and propose that ISWI and SWI/SNF complexes catalyze different outcomes in part because some ISWI complexes function as dimers while SWI/SNF complexes function as monomers.
Targeted chromatin remodelling is essential for many nuclear processes, including the regulation of V(D)J recombination. ATP-dependent nucleosome remodelling complexes are important players in this process whose activity must be tightly regulated. We show here that histone acetylation regulates nucleosome remodelling complex activity to boost RAG cutting during the initiation of V(D)J recombination. RAG cutting requires nucleosome mobilization from recombination signal sequences. Histone acetylation does not stimulate nucleosome mobilization per se by CHRAC, ACF or their catalytic subunit, ISWI. Instead, we find the more open structure of acetylated chromatin regulates the ability of nucleosome remodelling complexes to access their nucleosome templates. We also find that bromodomain/acetylated histone tail interactions can contribute to this targeting at limited concentrations of remodelling complex. We therefore propose that the changes in higher order chromatin structure associated with histone acetylation contribute to the correct targeting of nucleosome remodelling complexes and this is a novel way in which histone acetylation can modulate remodelling complex activity.
Chromatin remodeling complexes (CRCs) mobilize nucleosomes to mediate the access of DNA-binding factors to their sites in vivo. These CRCs contain a catalytic subunit that bears an ATPase/DNA translocase domain, and flanking regions that bind nucleosomal epitopes1. A central question is whether and how these flanking regions regulate ATP hydrolysis or the coupling of hydrolysis to DNA translocation, to affect nucleosome sliding efficiency. ISWIfamily CRCs contain ISWI2, which utilizes its ATPase/DNA translocase domain to pump DNA around the histone octamer to enable sliding3-7_ENREF_13. ISWI is positively regulated by two ‘activating’ nucleosomal epitopes: the ‘basic patch’ on the H4 tail, and extranucleosomal (linker) DNA8-13. Previous work defined the HSS domain in the ISWI C-terminus that binds linker DNA, needed for ISWI activity14,15. Here, we define two new, conserved, and separate regulatory regions on Drosophila ISWI, AutoN and NegC, that negatively regulate ATP hydrolysis (AutoN) or the coupling of ATP hydrolysis to productive DNA translocation (NegC). Rather than ‘activating’, the two aforementioned nucleosomal epitopes actually inhibit the negative regulation of AutoN and NegC. Remarkably, mutation/removal of AutoN and NegC enables significant nucleosome sliding without the H4 ‘basic patch’ or extranucleosomal DNA, or the HSS domain – converting ISWI to biochemical attributes of SWI/SNF-family ATPases. Thus, the ISWI ATPase catalytic core is an intrinsically-active DNA translocase which conducts nucleosome sliding, onto which selective ‘inhibition-of-inhibition’ modules are placed, to help ensure that remodeling occurs only in the presence of proper nucleosomal epitopes. This supports a general concept for the specialization of chromatin remodeling ATPases, where specific regulatory modules adapt an ancient active DNA translocase to conduct particular tasks only on the appropriate chromatin landscape.
Assembly of nucleosomes on relaxed, covalently closed DNA has been studied in a nuclear extract of Xenopus laevis oocytes. Nucleosomes containing the four histones H3, H4, H2A and H2B but lacking histone H1 are readily assembled on the DNA. The pattern of micrococcal nuclease digestion shows that the nucleosomes assembled in the absence of ATP and Mg (II) are closely packed, with a periodicity of 150 base pairs (bp). In contrast, in the presence of ATP and Mg (II) the spacing of the nucleosomes is 180 bp, similar to that observed for nucleosomes assembled on DNA microinjected into oocyte nuclei. The ATP and Mg (II) requirements for the assembly of correctly spaced nucleosomes are unrelated to the activity of the ATP and Mg (II) dependent DNA topoisomerase II in the extract; addition of specific inhibitors of eukaryotic DNA topoisomerase II has no effect on the spacing of the reconstituted nucleosomes. The ATP requirement in the assembly of correctly spaced nucleosomes can be substituted by adenosine 5'-O-3'-thiotriphosphate (gamma-S-ATP) but not by adenyl-5'-yl imidodiphosphate (AMP-P-(NH)-P).
The ATPase ISWI is the catalytic core of several nucleosome remodeling complexes, which are able to alter histone–DNA interactions within nucleosomes such that the sliding of histone octamers on DNA is facilitated. Dynamic nucleosome repositioning may be involved in the assembly of chromatin with regularly spaced nucleosomes and accessible regulatory sequence elements. The mechanism that underlies nucleosome sliding is largely unresolved. We recently discovered that the N-terminal ‘tail’ of histone H4 is critical for nucleosome remodeling by ISWI. If deleted, nucleosomes are no longer recognized as substrates and do not stimulate the ATPase activity of ISWI. We show here that the H4 tail is part of a more complex recognition epitope which is destroyed by grafting the H4 N-terminus onto other histones. We mapped the H4 tail requirement to a hydrophilic patch consisting of the amino acids R17H18R19 localized at the base of the tail. These residues have been shown earlier to contact nucleosomal DNA, suggesting that ISWI recognizes an ‘epitope’ consisting of the DNA-bound H4 tail. Consistent with this hypothesis, the ISWI ATPase is stimulated by isolated H4 tail peptides ISWI only in the presence of DNA. Acetylation of the adjacent K12 and K16 residues impairs substrate recognition by ISWI.
Serum of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) contains crossreacting autoantibodies which recognize histones in nucleosomes or when they are induced to form octamers in solution in the presence of 2 M NaCl, but not when they are dissociated free in solution at physiological ionic strength. We have found that histones stored in eggs of Xenopus laevis for use in rapid nuclear synthesis during early development react with this antibody. This reaction has been observed by radioimmunoassay, inhibition of chromatin assembly by the extracts in the presence of antibody, and, in a preliminary result, by identification of a histone-antibody complex bound to protein A- sepharose. Further evidence that the extract antigen corresponds to the stored histone pool comes from sedimentation and charge fractionation experiments where the chromatin assembly activity and antigen (measured by radioimmunoassay) were found to cofractionate. BEcause the extract histones are not bound to DNA, our results suggest that they are stored as a soluble complex in a conformation similar or identical to the octameric core of the nucleosome. Our data suggest that the histones in this complex are bound to an anionic factor or factors which presumably replaces the DNA in shielding the positive charges on the histones.
An ATP-dependent DNA translocase domain consisting of seven conserved motifs is a general feature of all ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers. While motifs on the ATPase domains of the yeast SWI/SNF and ISWI families of remodelers are highly conserved, the ATPase domains of these complexes appear not to be functionally interchangeable. We found one reason that may account for this is the ATPase domains interact differently with nucleosomes even though both associate with nucleosomal DNA 17–18 bp from the dyad axis. The cleft formed between the two lobes of the ISW2 ATPase domain is bound to nucleosomal DNA and Isw2 associates with the side of nucleosomal DNA away from the histone octamer. The ATPase domain of SWI/SNF binds to the same region of nucleosomal DNA, but is bound outside of the cleft region. The catalytic subunit of SWI/SNF also appears to intercalate between the DNA gyre and histone octamer. The altered interactions of SWI/SNF with DNA are specific to nucleosomes and do not occur with free DNA. These differences are likely mediated through interactions with the histone surface. The placement of SWI/SNF between the octamer and DNA could make it easier to disrupt histone–DNA interactions.
SWI/SNF is a well-characterized chromatin remodeling complex that remodels chromatin by sliding nucleosomes in cis and/or displacing nucleosomes in trans. The latter mechanism has the potential to remove promoter nucleosomes, allowing access to transcription factors and RNA polymerase. In vivo, histone acetylation often precedes apparent nucleosome loss; therefore, we sought to determine whether nucleosomes containing acetylated histones could be displaced by the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. We found that SAGA-acetylated histones were lost from an immobilized nucleosome array when treated with the SWI/SNF complex. When the nucleosome array was acetylated by SAGA in the presence of bound transcription activators, it generated a peak of acetylation surrounding the activator binding sites. Subsequent SWI/SNF treatment suppressed this acetylation peak. Immunoblots indicated that SWI/SNF preferentially displaced acetylated histones from the array relative to total histones. Moreover, the Swi2/Snf2 bromodomain, an acetyl-lysine binding domain, played a role in the displacement of acetylated histones. These data indicate that targeted histone acetylation by the SAGA complex predisposes promoter nucleosomes for displacement by the SWI/SNF complex.
Dynamic changes in chromatin structure play an important role
in transcription regulation. Recent studies have revealed two mechanisms
that alter chromatin structure. One involves ATP-dependent chromatin
remodeling, and the other involves acetylation of the core histone
tails. We have previously purified and characterized a multi-subunit protein
complex, NuRD, which possesses both nucleosome remodeling and histone
deacetylase activities. Despite extensive biochemical characterization
of the complex, little is known about the functions of its individual
components. In this study, we focused on Mi2, a component of the
NuRD complex. We found that, similar to the native NuRD complex, recombinant
Mi2 is a DNA-dependent, nucleosome-stimulated ATPase. Kinetic analysis
of the ATP hydrolysis reaction indicated that the differential stimulation
of the Mi2 ATPase by DNA and nucleosomes were primarily due to their
differential effects on the turnover number of the reaction. Furthermore, we
demonstrated that recombinant Mi2 is an efficient nucleosome remodeling
factor when compared to that of the native NuRD complex. Our results
define the biochemical function of Mi2 and set the stage for understanding
the mechanism of nucleosome remodeling in a defined reconstituted
The NSD (nuclear receptor SET domain-containing) family of histone lysine methyltransferases is a critical participant in chromatin integrity as evidenced by the number of human diseases associated with the aberrant expression of its family members. Yet, the specific targets of these enzymes are not clear, with marked discrepancies being reported in the literature. We demonstrate that NSD2 can exhibit disparate target preferences based on the nature of the substrate provided. The NSD2 complex purified from human cells and recombinant NSD2 both exhibit specific targeting of histone H3 lysine 36 (H3K36) when provided with nucleosome substrates, but histone H4 lysine 44 is the primary target in the case of octamer substrates, irrespective of the histones being native or recombinant. This disparity is negated when NSD2 is presented with octamer targets in conjunction with short single- or double-stranded DNA. Although the octamers cannot form nucleosomes, the target is nonetheless nucleosome-specific as is the product, dimethylated H3K36. This study clarifies in part the previous discrepancies reported with respect to NSD targets. We propose that DNA acts as an allosteric effector of NSD2 such that H3K36 becomes the preferred target.
We have examined the effects of core histone acetylation on the transcriptional activity and higher-order folding of defined 12-mer nucleosomal arrays. Purified HeLa core histone octamers containing an average of 2, 6, or 12 acetates per octamer (8, 23, or 46% maximal site occupancy, respectively) were assembled onto a DNA template consisting of 12 tandem repeats of a 208-bp Lytechinus 5S rRNA gene fragment. Reconstituted nucleosomal arrays were transcribed in a Xenopus oocyte nuclear extract and analyzed by analytical hydrodynamic and electrophoretic approaches to determine the extent of array compaction. Results indicated that in buffer containing 5 mM free Mg2+ and 50 mM KCl, high levels of acetylation (12 acetates/octamer) completely inhibited higher-order folding and concurrently led to a 15-fold enhancement of transcription by RNA polymerase III. The molecular mechanisms underlying the acetylation effects on chromatin condensation were investigated by analyzing the ability of differentially acetylated nucleosomal arrays to fold and oligomerize. In MgCl2-containing buffer the folding of 12-mer nucleosomal arrays containing an average of two or six acetates per histone octamer was indistinguishable, while a level of 12 acetates per octamer completely disrupted the ability of nucleosomal arrays to form higher-order folded structures at all ionic conditions tested. In contrast, there was a linear relationship between the extent of histone octamer acetylation and the extent of disruption of Mg2+-dependent oligomerization. These results have yielded new insight into the molecular basis of acetylation effects on both transcription and higher-order compaction of nucleosomal arrays.
A fragment of the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) promoter was reconstituted from pure histones into a dinucleosome with uniquely positioned octamer cores. Core boundaries for the in vitro-assembled dinucleosome corresponded to the observed in vivo phasing pattern for long terminal repeat nucleosomes A and B. Nuclear factor 1 (NF1), a constituent of the MMTV transcription initiation complex, was excluded from the assembled dinucleosome, whereas the glucocorticoid receptor was able to bind. During transcription of MMTV in vivo, displacement of nucleosome B was necessary to permit assembly of the initiation complex. These results indicate that the nucleoprotein structure of the promoter can provide differential access to sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins and that active chromatin remodeling can occur during transcription activation.