Basic linker of macroH2A stabilizes DNA at the entry/exit site of the nucleosome
Bowman, Gregory D.
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MacroH2A is a histone H2A variant that is typically found in heterochromatic regions of the genome. A positively charged linker that connects the histone-fold with the macro-domain was suggested to have DNA-binding properties, and has been shown to promote oligomerization of chromatin fibers. Here we examine the influence of this basic linker on DNA of mononucleosomes. We find that the macro-linker reduces accessibility to extranucleosomal DNA, and appears to increase compaction of the nucleosome. These properties arise from interactions between the H1-like basic linker region and DNA around the entry/exit site, which increases protection of nucleosomal DNA from exonuclease III digestion by 10 bp. By stabilizing the wrapping of DNA around the histone core, this basic linker of macroH2A may alter the distribution of nucleosome-associated factors, and potentially contribute to the more compacted nature of heterochromatin.