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Maier, Verena K. (2009): ATP-dependent Remodelling of Linker Histone-Containing Nucleosomal Fibres. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Biology
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Abstract

Eukaryotic genomes are condensed into a multilevel structure called chromatin which serves to organize and package the DNA, but at the same time needs to be flexible to permit regulated access to the stored information. ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling factors largely contribute to this dynamic nature of chromatin by catalysing processes such as the disruption of histone-DNA contacts, nucleosome repositioning and histone exchange. ATP-dependent remodelling has been well documented on a mononucleosomal level, but little is known about its regulation in a more physiological chromatin environment, where neighbouring nucleosomes and linker histones might interfere with the remodelling reaction. If and to what extent remodelling can work on chromatin bound by linker histones remains controversial, in spite of their high abundance and their strong influence on chromatin folding. We therefore investigated chromatin remodelling in the presence of linker histones H1 or H5 using regularly spaced, oligonucleosomal substrates reconstituted from purified components. Surprisingly, we found that both the remodelling complex ACF – consisting of the ATPase ISWI and the regulatory subunit ACF1 – and ISWI alone were able to catalyse the repositioning of entire chromatosomes (nucleosomes + H1). Linker histones inhibited their remodelling activity by only about 50%. In contrast, the related ATPase CHD1 remodelled chromatin only in the absence of linker histones, suggesting that linker histones allow remodelling by selected factors only. In addition, our data indicate that repositioning in the presence of H1 might be unidirectional. ACF1 is abundant during early Drosophila development, when H1 gradually replaces its early placeholder HMG-D. HMG-D binds to chromatin less tightly than H1 and unlike the latter, did not affect the remodelling activity of ACF in our assay. H1 was able to displace HMG-D from and bind to our reconstituted arrays without the help of cofactors. Strikingly, both H1 and HMG-D are more abundant in embryonic nuclei of acf1 null flies compared to the wild-type, raising the possibility that an ACF1-containing complex controls linker histone incorporation.