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Chromatin-remodeling for transcription

  • Yahli Lorch (a1) and Roger D. Kornberg (a1)

The nucleosome serves as a general gene repressor, preventing all initiation of transcription except that which is brought about by specific positive regulatory mechanisms. The positive mechanisms begin with chromatin-remodeling by complexes that slide, disrupt, or otherwise alter the structure and organization of nucleosomes. RSC in yeast and its counterpart PBAF in human cells are the major remodeling complexes for transcription. RSC creates a nucleosome-free region in front of a gene, flanked by strongly positioned +1 and −1 nucleosomes, with the transcription start site typically 10–15 bp inside the border of the +1 nucleosome. RSC also binds stably to nucleosomes harboring regulatory elements and to +1 nucleosomes, perturbing their structures in a manner that partially exposes their DNA sequences. The cryo-electron microscope structure of a RSC–nucleosome complex reveals such a structural perturbation, with the DNA largely unwrapped from the nucleosome and likely interacting with a positively charged surface of RSC. Such unwrapping both exposes the DNA and enables its translocation across the histone octamer of the nucleosome by an ATP-dependent activity of RSC. Genetic studies have revealed additional roles of RSC in DNA repair, chromosome segregation, and other chromosomal DNA transactions. These functions of RSC likely involve the same fundamental activities, DNA unwrapping and DNA translocation.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Yahli Lorch, Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Tel.: 650-725-5390; Fax: 650-723-8464; Email:
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