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Effects of DNA Methylation on the Structure of Nucleosomes

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-01-11, 00:00 authored by Ju Yeon Lee, Tae-Hee Lee
Nucleosomes are the fundamental packing units of the eukaryotic genome. Understanding the dynamic structure of a nucleosome is a key to the elucidation of genome packaging in eukaryotes, which is tied to the mechanisms of gene regulation. CpG methylation of DNA is an epigenetic modification associated with the inactivation of transcription and the formation of a repressive chromatin structure. Unraveling the changes in the structure of nucleosomes upon CpG methylation is an essential step toward the understanding of the mechanisms of gene repression and silencing by CpG methylation. Here we report single-molecule and ensemble fluorescence studies showing how the structure of a nucleosome is affected by CpG methylation. The results indicate that CpG methylation induces tighter wrapping of DNA around the histone core accompanied by a topology change. These findings suggest that changes in the physical properties of nucleosomes induced upon CpG methylation may contribute directly to the formation of a repressive chromatin structure.