Temperature-dependent regulation of rDNA condensation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Chromatin condensation during mitosis produces detangled and discrete DNA entities required for high fidelity sister chromatid segregation during mitosis and positions DNA away from the cleavage furrow during cytokinesis. Regional condensation during G1 also establishes a nuclear architecture through which gene transcription is regulated but remains plastic so that cells can respond to changes in nutrient levels, temperature and signaling molecules. To date, however, the potential impact of this plasticity on mitotic chromosome condensation remains unknown. Here, we report results obtained from a new condensation assay that wildtype budding yeast cells exhibit dramatic changes in rDNA conformation in response to temperature. rDNA hypercondenses in wildtype cells maintained at 37°C, compared with cells maintained at 23°C. This hypercondensation machinery can be activated during preanaphase but readily inactivated upon exposure to lower temperatures. Extended mitotic arrest at 23°C does not result in hypercondensation, negating a kinetic-based argument in which condensation that typically proceeds slowly is accelerated when cells are placed at 37°C. Neither elevated recombination nor reduced transcription appear to promote this hypercondensation. This heretofore undetected temperature-dependent hypercondensation pathway impacts current views of chromatin structure based on conditional mutant gene analyses and significantly extends our understanding of physiologic changes in chromatin architecture in response to hypothermia.