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Eukaryot Cell. 2006 Oct;5(10):1738-47.

SWI/SNF displaces SAGA-acetylated nucleosomes.

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Stowers Institute for Medical Research, 1000 E 50th St., Kansas City, MO 64110, USA.


SWI/SNF is a well-characterized chromatin remodeling complex that remodels chromatin by sliding nucleosomes in cis and/or displacing nucleosomes in trans. The latter mechanism has the potential to remove promoter nucleosomes, allowing access to transcription factors and RNA polymerase. In vivo, histone acetylation often precedes apparent nucleosome loss; therefore, we sought to determine whether nucleosomes containing acetylated histones could be displaced by the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. We found that SAGA-acetylated histones were lost from an immobilized nucleosome array when treated with the SWI/SNF complex. When the nucleosome array was acetylated by SAGA in the presence of bound transcription activators, it generated a peak of acetylation surrounding the activator binding sites. Subsequent SWI/SNF treatment suppressed this acetylation peak. Immunoblots indicated that SWI/SNF preferentially displaced acetylated histones from the array relative to total histones. Moreover, the Swi2/Snf2 bromodomain, an acetyl-lysine binding domain, played a role in the displacement of acetylated histones. These data indicate that targeted histone acetylation by the SAGA complex predisposes promoter nucleosomes for displacement by the SWI/SNF complex.

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