DNA Sequence Is a Major Determinant of Tetrasome Dynamics

Orkide Ordu, Alexandra Lusser, Nynke H. Dekker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Eukaryotic genomes are hierarchically organized into protein-DNA assemblies for compaction into the nucleus. Nucleosomes, with the (H3-H4)2 tetrasome as a likely intermediate, are highly dynamic in nature by way of several different mechanisms. We have recently shown that tetrasomes spontaneously change the direction of their DNA wrapping between left- and right-handed conformations, which may prevent torque buildup in chromatin during active transcription or replication. DNA sequence has been shown to strongly affect nucleosome positioning throughout chromatin. It is not known, however, whether DNA sequence also impacts the dynamic properties of tetrasomes. To address this question, we examined tetrasomes assembled on a high-affinity DNA sequence using freely orbiting magnetic tweezers. In this context, we also studied the effects of mono- and divalent salts on the flipping dynamics. We found that neither DNA sequence nor altered buffer conditions affect overall tetrasome structure. In contrast, tetrasomes bound to high-affinity DNA sequences showed significantly altered flipping kinetics, predominantly via a reduction in the lifetime of the canonical state of left-handed wrapping. Increased mono- and divalent salt concentrations counteracted this behavior. Thus, our study indicates that high-affinity DNA sequences impact not only the positioning of the nucleosome but that they also endow the subnucleosomal tetrasome with enhanced conformational plasticity. This may provide a means to prevent histone loss upon exposure to torsional stress, thereby contributing to the integrity of chromatin at high-affinity sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2217-2227
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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