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J Mol Biol. 2004 May 7;338(4):695-709.

Nucleosomal locations of dominant DNA sequence motifs for histone-DNA interactions and nucleosome positioning.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, Northwestern University, 2153 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208-3500, USA.


DNA sequence is an important determinant of the positioning, stability, and activity of nucleosomes, yet the molecular basis of these effects remains elusive. A "consensus DNA sequence" for nucleosome positioning has not been reported and, while certain DNA sequence preferences or motifs for nucleosome positioning have been discovered, how they function is not known. Here, we report that an unexpected observation concerning the reassembly of nucleosomes during salt gradient dialysis has allowed a breakthrough in our efforts to identify the nucleosomal locations of the DNA sequence motifs that dominate histone-DNA interactions and nucleosome positioning. We conclude that a previous selection experiment for high-affinity, nucleosome-forming DNA sequences exerted selective pressure chiefly on the central stretch of the nucleosomal DNA. This observation implies that algorithms for aligning the selected DNA sequences should seek to optimize the alignment over much less than the full 147 bp of nucleosomal DNA. A new alignment calculation implemented these ideas and successfully aligned 19 of the 41 sequences in a non-redundant database of selected high-affinity, nucleosome-positioning sequences. The resulting alignment reveals strong conservation of several stretches within a central 71 bp of the nucleosomal DNA. The alignment further reveals an inherent palindromic symmetry in the selected DNAs; it makes testable predictions of nucleosome positioning on the aligned sequences and for the creation of new positioning sequences, both of which are upheld experimentally; and it suggests new signals that may be important in translational nucleosome positioning.

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