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PLoS One. 2009 Nov 2;4(11):e7654. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007654.

Repertoires of the nucleosome-positioning dinucleotides.

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CAGT-Center for Applied Genotyping, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.


It is generally accepted that the organization of eukaryotic DNA into chromatin is strongly governed by a code inherent in the genomic DNA sequence. This code, as well as other codes, is superposed on the triplets coding for amino acids. The history of the chromatin code started three decades ago with the discovery of the periodic appearance of certain dinucleotides, with AA/TT and RR/YY giving the strongest signals, all with a period of 10.4 bases. Every base-pair stack in the DNA duplex has specific deformation properties, thus favoring DNA bending in a specific direction. The appearance of the corresponding dinucleotide at the distance 10.4 xn bases will facilitate DNA bending in that direction, which corresponds to the minimum energy of DNA folding in the nucleosome. We have analyzed the periodic appearances of all 16 dinucleotides in the genomes of thirteen different eukaryotic organisms. Our data show that a large variety of dinucleotides (if not all) are, apparently, contributing to the nucleosome positioning code. The choice of the periodical dinucleotides differs considerably from one organism to another. Among other 10.4 base periodicities, a strong and very regular 10.4 base signal was observed for CG dinucleotides in the genome of the honey bee A. mellifera. Also, the dinucleotide CG appears as the only periodical component in the human genome. This observation seems especially relevant since CpG methylation is well known to modulate chromatin packing and regularity. Thus, the selection of the dinucleotides contributing to the chromatin code is species specific, and may differ from region to region, depending on the sequence context.

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