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Cell. 2000 Dec 22;103(7):1133-42.

Generation of superhelical torsion by ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling activities.

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  • 1Division of Gene Regulation, The Wellcome Trust Biocentre, Dundee DD1 5EH, Scotland, United Kingdom.


ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling activities participate in the alteration of chromatin structure during gene regulation. All have DNA- or chromatin-stimulated ATPase activity and many can alter the structure of chromatin; however, the means by which they do this have remained unclear. Here we describe a novel activity for ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling activities, the ability to generate unconstrained negative superhelical torsion in DNA and chromatin. We find that the ability to distort DNA is shared by the yeast SWI/SNF complex, Xenopus Mi-2 complex, recombinant ISWI, and recombinant BRG1, suggesting that the generation of superhelical torsion represents a primary biomechanical activity shared by all Snf2p-related ATPase motors. The generation of superhelical torque provides a potent means by which ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling activities can manipulate chromatin structure.

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