Genes are packaged into nucleosomal arrays, each nucleosome typically having two copies of histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4. Histones have distinct posttranslational modifications, variant isoforms, and dynamics. Whether each histone copy within a nucleosome has distinct properties, particularly in relation to the direction of transcription, is unknown. Here we use chromatin immunoprecipitation-exonuclease (ChIP-exo) to resolve the organization of individual histones on a genomic scale. We detect widespread subnucleosomal structures in dynamic chromatin, including what appear to be half-nucleosomes consisting of one copy of each histone. We also detect interactions of H3 tails with linker DNA between nucleosomes, which may be negatively regulated by methylation of H3K36. Histone variant H2A.Z is enriched on the promoter-distal half of the +1 nucleosome, whereas H2BK123 ubiquitylation and H3K9 acetylation are enriched on the promoter-proximal half in a transcription-linked manner. Subnucleosome asymmetries might serve as molecular beacons that guide transcription.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology