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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 May;24(9):3907-17.

Structural features of nucleosomes reorganized by yeast FACT and its HMG box component, Nhp6.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132, USA.


The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Spt16/Cdc68, Pob3, and Nhp6 proteins (SPN or yFACT) bind to and alter nucleosomes in vitro, providing a potential explanation for their importance in both transcription and replication in vivo. We show that nucleosomes bound by either Nhp6 alone or the yFACT complex remain largely intact and immobile but are significantly reorganized, as indicated by changes in the pattern of sensitivity to DNase I and enhanced digestion by some restriction endonucleases. In contrast, yFACT enhanced access to exonuclease III only at very high levels of enzyme, suggesting that the DNA near the entry and exit sites of nucleosomes is largely unperturbed and that the position of the histone octamers relative to the DNA is not altered during reorganization. DNase I sensitivity was enhanced at sites clustered near the center of the nucleosomal DNA, away from the entry and exit points, and the pattern of nuclease sensitivity was only mildly affected by the configuration of linker extensions, further indicating that linkers play only a minor role in the reorganization of nucleosomes by yFACT. The DNA in contact with H2A-H2B dimers is therefore the region whose nuclease sensitivity was the least affected by yFACT reorganization. The most dramatic changes in nucleosome structure occurred when Spt16-Pob3 and the HMG box protein Nhp6 were both present, but Nhp6 alone altered DNase I sensitivity at some specific sites, supporting an independent role for this class of proteins in the general management of chromatin properties. yFACT activity does not require ATP hydrolysis and does not alter the position of nucleosomes, indicating that it acts through a mechanism distinct from chromatin remodeling. The results presented here suggest instead that yFACT promotes polymerase progression by reorganizing nucleosome cores into a less inhibitory conformation in which the properties of DNA sequences near the center of the nucleosomes are altered.

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