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Biochemistry. 1989 Nov 14;28(23):9129-36.

Homogeneous reconstituted oligonucleosomes, evidence for salt-dependent folding in the absence of histone H1.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331-6503.


Using the method of salt dialysis, we have reconstituted histone octamers onto DNA templates consisting of 12 tandem repeats, each containing a fragment of the sea urchin 5S rRNA gene [Simpson, R.T., Thoma, F., & Brubaker, J.M. (1985) Cell 42, 799-808]. In these templates, each sea urchin repeat contains a sequence for preferred nucleosome positioning. Sedimentation velocity and sedimentation equilibrium studies in the analytical ultracentrifuge indicate that at molar histone/DNA ratios of 1.0-1.1 extremely homogeneous preparations of fully loaded oligonucleosomes (12 nucleosomes/template) can be regularly obtained. Digestion of the oligonucleosomes with micrococcal nuclease, followed by restriction mapping of purified nucleosome-bound DNA sequences, yields a complicated but consistent pattern of nucleosome positioning. Roughly 50% of the nucleosomes appear to be phased at positions 1-146 of each repeat, while the remainder of the nucleosomes occupy a number of other minor discrete positions along the template that differ by multiples of 10 bp. From sedimentation velocity studies of the oligonucleosomes in 0-0.2 M NaCl, we observe a reversible increase in mean sedimentation coefficient by almost 30%, accompanied by development of heterogeneity in sedimentation. These results, in combination with theoretical predictions, indicate that linear stretches of chromatin in the absence of lysine-rich histones exist in solution in a salt-dependent equilibrium between an extended (low salt) conformation and one or more folded (high salt) structures. In addition, by 100 mM NaCl, salt-dependent dissociation of histone octamers from these linear oligonucleosomes is observed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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