The heritability of chromatin states through cell division is a potential contributor to the epigenetic maintenance of cellular memory of prior states. The macroH2A histone variant has properties of a regulator of epigenetic cell memory, including roles controlling gene silencing and cell differentiation. Its mechanisms of regional genomic targeting and maintenance through cell division are unknown. Here, we combined in vivo imaging with biochemical and genomic approaches to show that human macroH2A is incorporated into chromatin in the G1 phase of the cell cycle following DNA replication. The newly incorporated macroH2A retargets the same large heterochromatic domains where macroH2A was already enriched in the previous cell cycle. It remains heterotypic, targeting individual nucleosomes that do not already contain a macroH2A molecule. The pattern observed resembles that of a new deposition of centromeric histone variants during the cell cycle, indicating mechanistic similarities for macrodomain-scale regulation of epigenetic properties of the cell.
Intrinsic elasticity of nucleosomes is encoded by histone variants and calibrated by their binding partners
Histone variants fine-tune transcription, replication, DNA damage repair, and faithful chromosome segregation. Whether and how nucleosome variants encode unique mechanical properties to their cognate chromatin structures remains elusive. Here, using in silico and in vitro nanoindentation methods, extending to in vivo dissections, we report that histone variant nucleosomes are intrinsically more elastic than their canonical counterparts. Furthermore, binding proteins, which discriminate between histone variant nucleosomes, suppress this innate elasticity and also compact chromatin. Interestingly, when we overexpress the binding proteins in vivo, we also observe increased compaction of chromatin enriched for histone variant nucleosomes, correlating with diminished access. Taken together, these data suggest a plausible link between innate mechanical properties possessed by histone variant nucleosomes, the adaptability of chromatin states in vivo, and the epigenetic plasticity of the underlying locus.
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- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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- National Science Foundation
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