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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Oct;17(10):5813-22.

Aberrant silencing of the CpG island-containing human O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase gene is associated with the loss of nucleosome-like positioning.

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  • 1Program in Molecular Biology and Division of Hematology/Oncology, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, Illinois 60153, USA.

Abstract

Tumor-associated aberrant silencing of CpG island-containing genes has been correlated with increased cytosine methylation, a "closed" chromatin structure, and exclusion of transcription factor binding in the CpG island/promoter regions of affected genes. Given the lack of understanding of what constitutes a closed chromatin structure in CpG islands, however, it has been difficult to assess the relationship among cytosine methylation, chromatin structure, and inappropriate gene silencing. In this study, nuclease accessibility analysis was used to more clearly define the chromatin structure in the CpG island of the human O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene. Chromatin structure was then related to in vivo DNA-protein interactions and cytosine methylation status of the MGMT CpG island in human glioma cells varying in MGMT expression. The results of these studies indicated that the "open" chromatin structure associated with the MGMT CpG island in MGMT+ cells consisted of an approximately 250-bp transcription factor-binding, nuclease-accessible, nucleosome-free region of DNA, whose formation was associated with at least four flanking, precisely positioned nucleosome-like structures. In MGMT- cells, this precise nucleosomal array was lost and was replaced by randomly positioned nucleosomes (i.e., the closed chromatin structure), regardless of whether methylation of the CpG island was spread over the entire island or limited to regions outside the transcription factor binding region. These results suggest that CpG islands facilitate the expression of housekeeping genes by facilitating nucleosomal positioning and that the conditions that alter the formation of this array (such as perhaps methylation) may indirectly affect CpG island-containing gene expression.

PMID:
9315639
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC232429
Free PMC Article
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