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Nucleosomes in contact
In eukaryotic cells, genomic DNA must be compacted to fit inside the nucleus. A key player in DNA packaging is the nucleosome, which comprises a segment of DNA wrapped around an octamer of histone proteins. During replication and transcription, nucleosomes must reposition themselves on the DNA. In this process, nucleosomes can collide to form a dinucleosome. Kato et al. report a high-resolution crystal structure of a dinucleosome. One of the octamers has lost a histone dimer so that the dinucleosome comprises an octamer and a hexamer. The structure may represent an intermediate during chromatin remodeling.
Science, this issue p. 205
Nucleosomes are dynamic entities that are repositioned along DNA by chromatin remodeling processes. A nucleosome repositioned by the switch-sucrose nonfermentable (SWI/SNF) remodeler collides with a neighbor and forms the intermediate “overlapping dinucleosome.” Here, we report the crystal structure of the overlapping dinucleosome, in which two nucleosomes are associated, at 3.14-angstrom resolution. In the overlapping dinucleosome structure, the unusual “hexasome” nucleosome, composed of the histone hexamer lacking one H2A-H2B dimer from the conventional histone octamer, contacts the canonical “octasome” nucleosome, and they intimately associate. Consequently, about 250 base pairs of DNA are left-handedly wrapped in three turns, without a linker DNA segment between the hexasome and octasome moieties. The overlapping dinucleosome structure may provide important information to understand how nucleosome repositioning occurs during the chromatin remodeling process.