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Genome Res. 2007 Aug;17(8):1170-7. Epub 2007 Jul 9.

Nucleosome positioning signals in genomic DNA.

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  • 1Bioinformatics Program, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Although histones can form nucleosomes on virtually any genomic sequence, DNA sequences show considerable variability in their binding affinity. We have used DNA sequences of Saccharomyces cerevisiae whose nucleosome binding affinities have been experimentally determined (Yuan et al. 2005) to train a support vector machine to identify the nucleosome formation potential of any given sequence of DNA. The DNA sequences whose nucleosome formation potential are most accurately predicted are those that contain strong nucleosome forming or inhibiting signals and are found within nucleosome length stretches of genomic DNA with continuous nucleosome formation or inhibition signals. We have accurately predicted the experimentally determined nucleosome positions across a well-characterized promoter region of S. cerevisiae and identified strong periodicity within 199 center-aligned mononucleosomes studied recently (Segal et al. 2006) despite there being no periodicity information used to train the support vector machine. Our analysis suggests that only a subset of nucleosomes are likely to be positioned by intrinsic sequence signals. This observation is consistent with the available experimental data and is inconsistent with the proposal of a nucleosome positioning code. Finally, we show that intrinsic nucleosome positioning signals are both more inhibitory and more variable in promoter regions than in open reading frames in S. cerevisiae.

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