Different Mechanisms for in Vitro Formation of Nucleosome Core Particles

Anna M. Aragay, Xavier Fernandez-Busquets, Joan Ramon Daban

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    17 Citations (Scopus)


    The interaction of different histone oligomers with nucleosomes has been investigated by using nondenaturing gel electrophoresis. In the presence of 0.2 M NaCl, the addition of the pairs H2A.H2B or H3,H4 or the four core histones to nucleosome core particles produces a decrease in the intensity of the core particle band and the appearance of aggregated material at the top of the gel, indicating that all these histone oligomers are able to associate with nucleosomes. Equivalent results were obtained by using oli-gonucleosome core particles. Additional electrophoretic results, together with second-dimension analysis of histone composition and fluorescence and solubility studies, indicate that H2A.H2B, H3,H4, and the four core histones can migrate spontaneously from the aggregated nucleosomes containing excess histones to free core DNA. In all cases the estimated yield of histone transfer is very high. Furthermore, the results obtained from electron microscopy, solubility, and supercoiling assays demonstrate the transfer of excess histones from oligonucleosomes to free circular DNA. However, the extent of solubilization obtained in this case is lower than that observed with core DNA as histone acceptor. Our results demonstrate that nucleosome core particles can be formed in 0.2 M NaCl by the following mechanisms: (1) transfer of excess core histones from oligonucleosomes to free DNA, (2) transfer to excess H2A.H2B and H3,H4 associated separately with oligonucleosomes to free DNA, (3) transfer to excess H2A.H2B initially associated with oligonucleosomes to DNA, followed by the reaction of the resulting DNA-(H2A,H2B) complex with oligonucleosomes containing excess H3,H4, and (4) a two-step transfer reaction similar to that indicated in (3), in which excess histones H3,H4 are transferred to DNA before the reaction with oligonucleosomes containing excess H2A,H2B. The possible biological implications of these spontaneous reactions are discussed in the context of the present knowledge of the nucleosome function. © 1991, American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5022-5032
    Issue number20
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1991


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