Friday, May 5, 2017

Nucleosome mobility and the regulation of gene expression: Insights from single-molecule studies

Sergei Rudnizky, Omri Malik, Adaiah Bavly, Lilach Pnueli, Philippa Melamed, Ariel Kaplan

Nucleosomes at the promoters of genes regulate the accessibility of the transcription machinery to DNA, and function as a basic layer in the complex regulation of gene expression. Our understanding of the role of the nucleosome's spontaneous, thermally driven position changes in modulating expression is lacking. This is the result of the paucity of experimental data on these dynamics, at high-resolution, and for DNA sequences that belong to real, transcribed genes. We have developed an assay that uses partial, reversible unzipping of nucleosomes with optical tweezers to repeatedly probe a nucleosome's position over time. Using the nucleosomes at the promoters of two model genes, Cga and Lhb, we show that the mobility of nucleosomes is modulated by the sequence of DNA and by the use of alternative histone variants, and describe how the mobility can affect transcription, at the initiation and elongation phases.

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