The nucleosome assembly protein Nap1 is used extensively in the chromatin field to reconstitute nucleosomal templates for structural and functional studies. Beyond its role in facilitating experimental investigation of nucleosomes, the highly conserved Nap1 is one of the best-studied members of the histone chaperone group. Here we review its numerous functions, focusing mainly on its roles in assembly and disassembly of the nucleosome particle, and its interactions with chromatin remodeling factors. Its presumed role in transcription through chromatin is also reviewed in detail. An attempt is made to clearly discriminate between fact and fiction, and to formulate the unresolved questions that need further attention. It is beyond doubt that the numerous, seemingly unrelated functions of this juggler protein have to be precisely channeled, coordinated, and regulated. Why nature endowed this specific protein with so many functions may remain a mystery. We are aware of the enormous challenge to the scientific community that understanding the mechanisms underlying these activities presents.
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