Communication between distantly spaced genomic regions is one of the key features of gene regulation in eukaryotes. Chromatin per se can stimulate efficient enhancer-promoter communication (EPC); however, the role of chromatin structure and dynamics in this process remains poorly understood. Here we show that nucleosome spacing and the presence of nucleosome-free DNA regions can modulate chromatin structure/dynamics and, in turn, affect the rate of EPC in vitro and in silico. Increasing the length of internucleosomal linker DNA from 25 to 60 bp results in more efficient EPC. The presence of longer nucleosome-free DNA regions can positively or negatively affect the rate of EPC, depending upon the length and location of the DNA region within the chromatin fiber. Thus the presence of histone-free DNA regions can differentially affect the efficiency of EPC, suggesting that gene regulation over a distance could be modulated by changes in the length of internucleosomal DNA spacers.
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