Flexible and dynamic nucleosome fiber in living mammalian cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Genomic DNA is organized three dimensionally within cells as chromatin and is searched and read by various proteins by an unknown mechanism; this mediates diverse cell functions. Recently, several pieces of evidence, including our cryomicroscopy and synchrotron X-ray scattering analyses, have demonstrated that chromatin consists of irregularly folded nucleosome fibers without a 30-nm chromatin fiber (i.e., a polymer melt-like structure). This melt-like structure implies a less physically constrained and locally more dynamic state, which may be crucial for protein factors to scan genomic DNA. Using a combined approach of fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, Monte Carlo computer simulations, and single nucleosome imaging, we demonstrated the flexible and dynamic nature of the nucleosome fiber in living mammalian cells. We observed local nucleosome fluctuation (~50 nm movement/30 ms) caused by Brownian motion. Our in vivo/in silico results suggest that local nucleosome dynamics facilitate chromatin accessibility and play a critical role in the scanning of genome information.

publication date

  • September 2013