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Trends Genet. 2011 Dec;27(12):487-92. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2011.09.001. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Nucleosomes and the accessibility problem.

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  • 1Molecular Biology Program, Sloan Kettering Institute, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Eukaryotic DNA is packaged in nucleosomes. How does this sequestration affect the ability of transcription regulators to access their sites? We cite evidence against the idea that nucleosome positioning is determined primarily by the intrinsic propensities of DNA sequences to form nucleosomes--such that, for example, regulatory sites would be 'nucleosome-free'. Instead, studies in yeast show that nucleosome positioning is primarily determined by specific DNA-binding proteins. Where nucleosomes would otherwise compete with regulatory protein binding (a modest but potentially biologically important effect), this obstacle can be relieved by at least two strategies for exposing regulatory sites. In contrast to their lack of effect on nucleosome positioning, DNA sequence differences do directly affect both the efficiencies with which nucleosomes form in regions flanking regulatory sites before induction, and the extent of their removal upon induction. These nucleosomes, evidently, inhibit basal transcription but are poised to be removed quickly upon command.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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