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Molecular and Cellular Biology

Year: 2008  |  Volume: 28  |  Issue: 1  |  Page No.: 227 - 236

Acetylation Mimics within Individual Core Histone Tail Domains Indicate Distinct Roles in Regulating the Stability of Higher-Order Chromatin Structure

Xiaodong Wang and Jeffrey J. Hayes

Abstract

Nucleosome arrays undergo salt-dependent self-association into large oligomers in a process thought to recapitulate essential aspects of higher-order tertiary chromatin structure formation. Lysine acetylation within the core histone tail domains inhibits self-association, an effect likely related to its role in facilitating transcription. As acetylation of specific tail domains may encode distinct functions, we investigated biochemical and self-association properties of model nucleosome arrays containing combinations of native and mutant core histones with lysine-to-glutamine substitutions to mimic acetylation. Acetylation mimics within the tail domains of H2B and H4 caused the largest inhibition of array self-association, while modification of the H3 tail uniquely affected the stability of DNA wrapping within individual nucleosomes. In addition, the effect of acetylation mimics on array self-association is inconsistent with a simple charge neutralization mechanism. For example, acetylation mimics within the H2A tail can have either a positive or negative effect on self-association, dependent upon the acetylation state of the other tails and nucleosomal repeat length. Finally, we demonstrate that glutamine substitutions and lysine acetylation within the H4 tail domain have identical effects on nucleosome array self-association. Our results indicate that acetylation of specific tail domains plays distinct roles in the regulation of chromatin structure.

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