Unfolded Structure and Reactivity of Nucleosome Core DNA-Histone H2A,H2B Complexes in Solution As Studied by Synchrotron Radiation X-ray Scattering

Montserrat Samsó, Joan Ramon Daban

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Abstract

It has been previously found using different physicochemical techniques [Aragay, A., Diaz, P., & Daban, J.-R. (1988) J. Mol. Biol. 204, 141-154] that histones H2A,H2B in the absence of H3,H4 can associate with nucleosome core DNA (146 base pairs). Here we describe a synchrotron X-ray scattering study of core DNA-(H2A,H2B) complexes in solution. Our results obtained using different histone to DNA weight ratios and ionic conditions ranging from very low ionic strength to 0.2 M NaCl show that histones H2A,H2B are unable to fold core DNA. Model calculations indicate that histones H2A,H2B produce very elongated structures even when the reconstituted complexes are prepared at physiological ionic strength. In contrast, our scattering data indicate that the reconstituted complexes prepared at physiological salt concentration either with the four core histones or with histones H3,H4 without H2A,H2B are completely folded particles with a radius of gyration similar to that corresponding to the native nucleosome core (4.2 nm). Furthermore, our results show that the DNA of the extended complexes containing histones H2A,H2B becomes completely folded after the histone pair exchange reaction that occurs spontaneously between preformed DNA-(H2A,H2B) and DNA-(H3,H4) complexes. These observations, together with our previous studies, suggest that the open conformation of DNA-(H2A,H2B) complexes facilitates the involvement of this structure as a transient intermediate in the reaction of nucleosome formation at physiological ionic strength. © 1993, American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4609-4614
JournalBiochemistry (Easton)
Volume32
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1993

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