Depletion effects massively change chromatin properties and influence genome folding

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Abstract

We present a Monte Carlo model for genome folding at the 30-nm scale with focus on linker-histone and nucleosome depletion effects. We find that parameter distributions from experimental data do not lead to one specific chromatin fiber structure, but instead to a distribution of structures in the chromatin phase diagram. Depletion of linker histones and nucleosomes affects, massively, the flexibility and the extension of chromatin fibers. Increasing the amount of nucleosome skips (i.e., nucleosome depletion) can lead either to a collapse or to a swelling of chromatin fibers. These opposing effects are discussed and we show that depletion effects may even contribute to chromatin compaction. Furthermore, we find that predictions from experimental data for the average nucleosome skip rate lie exactly in the regime of maximum chromatin compaction. Finally, we determine the pair distribution function of chromatin. This function reflects the structure of the fiber, and its Fourier-transform can be measured experimentally. Our calculations show that even in the case of fibers with depletion effects, the main dominant peaks (characterizing the structure and the length scales) can still be identified. © 2009 by the Biophysical Society.

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Diesinger, P. M., & Heermann, D. W. (2009). Depletion effects massively change chromatin properties and influence genome folding. Biophysical Journal, 97(8), 2146–2153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2009.06.057

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