Abstract Chromatin is a system of proteins, RNA, and DNA that interact with each other to organize and regulate genetic information within eukaryotic nuclei. Chromatin proteins carry out essential functions: packing DNA during cell division, partitioning DNA into sub-regions within the nucleus, and controlling levels of gene expression. There is a growing interest in manipulating chromatin dynamics for applications in medicine and agriculture. Progress in this area requires the identification of design rules for the chromatin system. Here, we focus on the relationship between the physical structure and function of chromatin proteins. We discuss key research that has elucidated the intrinsic properties of chromatin proteins and how this information informs design rules for synthetic systems. Recent work demonstrates that chromatin-derived peptide motifs are portable and in some cases can be customized to alter their function. Finally, we present a workflow for fusion protein design and discuss best practices for engineering chromatin to assist scientists in advancing the field of synthetic epigenetics. PMID:28609787
Chromatin is a system of proteins, RNA, and DNA that interact with each other to organize and regulate genetic information within eukaryotic nuclei. Chromatin proteins carry out essential functions: packing DNA during cell division, partitioning DNA into sub-regions within the nucleus, and controlling levels of gene expression. There is a growing interest in manipulating chromatin dynamics for applications in medicine and agriculture. Progress in this area requires the identification of design rules for the chromatin system. Here, we focus on the relationship between the physical structure and function of chromatin proteins. We discuss key research that has elucidated the intrinsic properties of chromatin proteins and how this information informs design rules for synthetic systems. Recent work demonstrates that chromatin-derived peptide motifs are portable and in some cases can be customized to alter their function. Finally, we present a workflow for fusion protein design and discuss best practices for engineering chromatin to assist scientists in advancing the field of synthetic epigenetics. The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
Genomic DNA is packaged into chromatin in eukaryotic cells. The fundamental building block of chromatin is the nucleosome, a 147 bp-long DNA molecule wrapped around the surface of a histone octamer. Arrays of nucleosomes are positioned along DNA according to their sequence preferences and folded into higher-order chromatin fibers whose structure is poorly understood. We have developed a framework for predicting sequence-specific histone-DNA interactions and the effective two-body potential responsible for ordering nucleosomes into regular higher-order structures. Our approach is based on the analogy between nucleosomal arrays and a one-dimensional fluid of finite-size particles with nearest-neighbor interactions. We derive simple rules which allow us to predict nucleosome occupancy solely from the dinucleotide content of the underlying DNA sequences.Dinucleotide content determines the degree of stiffness of the DNA polymer and thus defines its ability to bend into the nucleosomal superhelix. As expected, the nucleosome positioning rules are universal for chromatin assembled in vitro on genomic DNA from baker's yeast and from the nematode worm C.elegans, where nucleosome placement follows intrinsic sequence preferences and steric exclusion. However, the positioning rules inferred from in vivo C.elegans chromatin are affected by global nucleosome depletion from chromosome arms relative to central domains, likely caused by the attachment of the chromosome arms to the nuclear membrane. Furthermore, intrinsic nucleosome positioning rules are overwritten in transcribed regions, indicating that chromatin organization is actively managed by the transcriptional and splicing machinery.
The beta-globin locus control region (LCR) is able to enhance the expression of all globin genes throughout the course of development. However, the chromatin structure of the LCR at the different developmental stages is not well defined. We report DNase I and micrococcal nuclease hypersensitivity, chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses for histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4, and 3C (chromatin conformation capture) assays of the normal and mutant beta-globin loci, which demonstrate that nucleosomes at the DNase I hypersensitive sites of the LCR could be either depleted or retained depending on the stages of development. Furthermore, MNase sensitivity and 3C assays suggest that the LCR chromatin is more open in embryonic erythroblasts than in definitive erythroblasts at the primary- and secondary-structure levels; however, the LCR chromatin is packaged more tightly in embryonic erythroblasts than in definitive erythroblasts at the tertiary chromatin level. Our study provides the first evidence that the occupancy of nucleosomes at a DNase I hypersensitive site is a developmental stage-related event and that embryonic and adult cells possess distinct chromatin structures of the LCR.
Telomeres, the DNA-protein complexes located at the end of linear eukaryotic chromosomes are essential for genome stability. Improper higher-order chromatin organization at the chromosome ends can give rise to telomeric recombination and genomic instability. We report the development of an assay to quantify differences in the condensation of telomeric chromatin, thereby offering new opportunities to study telomere biology and stability. We have combined a DNA nuclease digestion with a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay of telomeric DNA, which we term the Telomere Chromatin Condensation Assay (TCCA). By quantifying the relative quantities of telomeric DNA that are progressively digested with the exonuclease Bal 31 the method can discriminate between different levels of telomeric chromatin condensation. The structural chromatin packaging at telomeres shielded against exonuclease digestion delivered an estimate, which we term Chromatin Protection Factor (CPF) that ranged from 1.7 to 2.3 fold greater than that present in unpacked DNA. The CPF was significantly decreased when cell cultures were incubated with the DNA hypomethylating agent 5-azacytidine, demonstrating the ability of the TCCA assay to discriminate between packaging levels of telomeric DNA. Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
To study the possible relationship between sperm aneuploidy, sperm DNA integrity, chromatin packaging, traditional semen parameters, and recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). Descriptive study. University-affiliated tertiary teaching. A total of 22 couples with history of RPL and 20 fertile men. Semen samples from case and control men were examined for differences in semen parameters, DNA fragmentation, chromatin condensation, and sperm aneuploidy. Sperm DNA and chromatin integrity and sperm aneuploidy. Sperm progressive motility (30.2% vs. 51.5%) was significantly lower and abnormal morphology (74.8% vs. 54.2%) was significantly higher in the RPL group versus the control group, respectively. The percentage of fragmented DNA was significantly increased in the RPL group (17.1% vs. 10.2%) as well as the rate of spermatozoa with nuclear chromatin decondensation (23.6% vs. 11.8%). There was a significantly higher sperm aneuploidy rate among the RPL group as well. The increase in abnormal sperm parameters, sperm DNA fragmentation, nuclear chromatin decondensation, and sperm aneuploidy suggest possible causes of unexplained RPL. Copyright 2016 American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Eukaryotic cells package their genome in the form of a DNA-protein complex known as chromatin. This organization not only condenses the genome to fit within the confines of the nucleus, but also provides a platform for a cell to regulate accessibility to different gene sequences. The basic packaging element of chromatin is the nucleosome, which consists of 146 base pairs of DNA wrapped around histone proteins. One major means that a cell regulates chromatin structure is by depositing post-translational modifications on nucleosomal histone proteins, and thereby altering internucleosomal interactions and/or binding to different chromatin associated factors. These chromatin modifications are often catalyzed by multi-subunit enzyme complexes, whose large size, sophisticated composition, and inherent conformational flexibility pose significant technical challenges to their biochemical and structural characterization. Multiple structural approaches including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, single-particle electron microscopy, and crosslinking coupled to mass spectrometry are often used synergistically to probe the overall architecture, subunit organization, and catalytic mechanisms of these macromolecular assemblies. In this review, we highlight several recent chromatin-modifying complexes studies that embodies this multipronged structural approach, and explore common themes amongst them. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Biophysics in Canada, edited by Lewis Kay, John Baenziger, Albert Berghuis and Peter Tieleman. Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Genomic DNA is packed in chromatin fibers organized in higher-order structures within the interphase nucleus. One level of organization involves the formation of chromatin loops that may provide a favorable environment to processes such as DNA replication, transcription, and repair. However, little is known about the mechanistic basis of this structuration. Here we demonstrate that cohesin participates in the spatial organization of DNA replication factories in human cells. Cohesin is enriched at replication origins and interacts with prereplication complex proteins. Down-regulation of cohesin slows down S-phase progression by limiting the number of active origins and increasing the length of chromatin loops that correspond with replicon units. These results give a new dimension to the role of cohesin in the architectural organization of interphase chromatin, by showing its participation in DNA replication. PMID:21159821 59ce067264