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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2012 Nov;19(11):1076-83. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2424. Epub 2012 Oct 21.

Histone H2A.Z inheritance during the cell cycle and its impact on promoter organization and dynamics.

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The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.


Although it has been clearly established that well-positioned histone H2A.Z-containing nucleosomes flank the nucleosome-depleted region (NDR) at the transcriptional start site (TSS) of active mammalian genes, how this chromatin-based information is transmitted through the cell cycle is unknown. We show here that in mouse trophoblast stem cells, the amount of histone H2A.Z at promoters decreased during S phase, coinciding with homotypic (H2A.Z-H2A.Z) nucleosomes flanking the TSS becoming heterotypic (H2A.Z-H2A). To our surprise these nucleosomes remained heterotypic at M phase. At the TSS, we identified an unstable heterotypic histone H2A.Z-containing nucleosome in G1 phase that was lost after DNA replication. These dynamic changes at the TSS mirror a global expansion of the NDR at S and M phases, which, unexpectedly, is unrelated to transcriptional activity. Coincident with the loss of histone H2A.Z at promoters, histone H2A.Z is targeted to the centromere when mitosis begins.

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