Ubiquitous nucleosome crowding in the yeast genome

Razvan V. Chereji, Alexandre V. Morozov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Nucleosomes may undergo a conformational change in which a stretch of DNA peels off the histone octamer surface as a result of thermal fluctuations or interactions with chromatin remodelers. Thus, neighboring nucleosomes may invade each other's territories by DNA unwrapping and translocation, or through initial assembly in partially wrapped states. A recent high-resolution map of distances between dyads of neighboring nucleosomes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae reveals that nucleosomes frequently overlap DNA territories of their neighbors. This conclusion is supported by lower-resolution maps of S. cerevisiae nucleosome lengths based on micrococcal nuclease digestion and paired-end sequencing. The average length of wrapped DNA follows a stereotypical pattern in genes and promoters, correlated with the well-known distribution of nucleosome occupancy: nucleosomal DNA tends to be shorter in promoters and longer in coding regions. To explain these observations, we have developed a biophysical model that uses a 10-11-bp periodic histone-DNA binding energy profile. The profile is based on the pattern of histone-DNA contacts in nucleosome crystal structures, as well as the idea of linker length discretization caused by higher-order chromatin structure. Our model is in agreement with the observed genome-wide distributions of interdyad distances, wrapped DNA lengths, and nucleosome occupancies. Furthermore, our approach explains in vitro measurements of the accessibility of nucleosome-covered target sites and nucleosome-induced cooperativity between DNA-binding factors. We rule out several alternative scenarios of histone-DNA interactions as inconsistent with the genomic data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5236-5241
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • DNA accessibility
  • Gene regulation
  • Partially unwrapped nucleosomes

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