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Keywords:

  • chromatin;
  • Drosophila;
  • linker histone;
  • nucleosome array;
  • remodelling

Nucleosome-remodelling factors containing the ATPase ISWI, such as ACF, render DNA in chromatin accessible by promoting the sliding of histone octamers. Although the ATP-dependent repositioning of mononucleosomes is readily observable in vitro, it is unclear to which extent nucleosomes can be moved in physiological chromatin, where neighbouring nucleosomes, linker histones and the folding of the nucleosomal array restrict mobility. We assembled arrays consisting of 12 nucleosomes or 12 chromatosomes (nucleosomes plus linker histone) from defined components and subjected them to remodelling by ACF or the ATPase CHD1. Both factors increased the access to DNA in nucleosome arrays. ACF, but not CHD1, catalysed profound movements of nucleosomes throughout the array, suggesting different remodelling mechanisms. Linker histones inhibited remodelling by CHD1. Surprisingly, ACF catalysed significant repositioning of entire chromatosomes in chromatin containing saturating levels of linker histone H1. H1 inhibited the ATP-dependent generation of DNA accessibility by only about 50%. This first demonstration of catalysed chromatosome movements suggests that the bulk of interphase euchromatin may be rendered dynamic by dedicated nucleosome-remodelling factors.