Lucy D. Brennan, Robert A. Forties, Smita S. Patel & Michelle D. Wang
Proper cell function requires preservation of the spatial organization of chromatin modifications. Maintenance of this epigenetic landscape necessitates the transfer of parental nucleosomes to newly replicated DNA, a process that is stringently regulated and intrinsically linked to replication fork dynamics. This creates a formidable setting from which to isolate the central mechanism of transfer. Here we utilized a minimal experimental system to track the fate of a single nucleosome following its displacement, and examined whether DNA mechanics itself, in the absence of any chaperones or assembly factors, may serve as a platform for the transfer process. We found that the nucleosome is passively transferred to available dsDNA as predicted by a simple physical model of DNA loop formation. These results demonstrate a fundamental role for DNA mechanics in mediating nucleosome transfer and preserving epigenetic integrity during replication.