Indexed on: 30 Oct '07Published on: 30 Oct '07Published in: Nature Structural and Molecular Biology
Although it is believed that the interconversion between permissive and refractory chromatin structures is important in regulating gene transcription, this process is poorly understood. Central to addressing this issue is to elucidate how a nucleosomal array folds into higher-order chromatin structures. Such findings can then provide new insights into how the folding process is regulated to yield different functional states. Using well-defined in vitro chromatin-assembly and transcription systems, we show that a small acidic region on the surface of the nucleosome is crucial both for the folding of a nucleosomal template into the 30-nm chromatin fiber and for the efficient repression of transcription, thereby providing a mechanistic link between these two essential processes. This structure-function relationship has been exploited by complex eukaryotic cells through the replacement of H2A with the specific variant H2A.Bbd, which naturally lacks an acidic patch.