Nucleosomal DNA is thought to be generally inaccessible to DNA-binding factors, such as micrococcal nuclease (MNase). Here, we digest Drosophila chromatin with high and low concentrations of MNase to reveal two distinct nucleosome types: MNasesensitive and MNase-resistant. MNase-resistant nucleosomes assemble on sequences depleted of A/T and enriched in G/C-containing dinucleotides, whereas MNase-sensitive nucleosomes form on A/Trich sequences found at transcription start and termination sites, enhancers and DNase I hypersensitive sites. Estimates of nucleosome formation energies indicate that MNase-sensitive nucleosomes tend to be less stable than MNase-resistant ones. Strikingly, a decrease in cell growth temperature of about 10?C makes MNase-sensitive nucleosomes less accessible, suggesting that observed variations in MNase sensitivity are related to either thermal fluctuations of chromatin fibers or the activity of enzymatic machinery. In the vicinity of active genes and DNase I hypersensitive sites nucleosomes are organized into periodic arrays, likely due to 'phasing' off potential barriers formed by DNA-bound factors or by nucleosomes anchored to their positions through external interactions. The latter idea is substantiated by our biophysical model of nucleosome positioning and energetics, which predicts that nucleosomes immediately downstream of transcription start sites are anchored and recapitulates nucleosome phasing at active genes significantly better than sequencedependent models.
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