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Mol Cell. 2003 May;11(5):1311-22.

Distinct strategies to make nucleosomal DNA accessible.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


One hallmark of ATP-dependent remodeling complexes is the ability to make nucleosomal DNA accessible to regulatory factors. We have compared two prominent human ATP-dependent remodelers, BRG1 from the SWI/SNF family and SNF2h from the ISWI family, for their abilities to make a spectrum of nucleosomal sites accessible. By measuring rates of remodeling at seven different sites on a mononucleosome and at six different sites on the central nucleosome of a trinucleosome, we have found that BRG1 opens centrally located sites more than an order of magnitude better than SNF2h. We provide evidence that this capability of BRG1 is caused by its ability to create DNA loops on the surface of a nucleosome, even when that nucleosome is constrained by adjacent nucleosomes. This specialized ability to make central sites accessible should allow SWI/SNF family complexes to facilitate binding of nuclear factors in chromatin environments where adjacent nucleosomes might otherwise constrain mobility.

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