The organization of nucleosomes around splice sites

  • Chen W
  • Luo L
  • Zhang L
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The occupancy of nucleosomes along chromosome is a key factor for gene regulation. However, except promoter regions, genome-wide properties and functions of nucleosome organization remain unclear in mammalian genomes. Using the computational model of Increment of Diversity with Quadratic Discriminant (IDQD) trained from the microarray data, the nucleosome occupancy score (NOScore) was defined and applied to splice junction regions of constitutive, cassette exon, alternative 3' and 5' splicing events in the human genome. We found an interesting relation between NOScore and RNA splicing: exon regions have higher NOScores compared with their flanking intron sequences in both constitutive and alternative splicing events, indicating the stronger nucleosome occupation potential of exon regions. In addition, NOScore valleys present at similar to 25 bp upstream of the acceptor site in all splicing events. By defining folding diversity-to-energy ratio to describe RNA structural flexibility, we demonstrated that primary RNA transcripts from nucleosome occupancy regions are relatively rigid and those from nucleosome depleted regions are relatively flexible. The negative correlation between nucleosome occupation/depletion of DNA sequence and structural flexibility/rigidity of its primary transcript around splice junctions may provide clues to the deeper understanding of the unexpected role for nucleosome organization in the regulation of RNA splicing.

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  • Wei Chen

  • Liaofu Luo

  • Lirong Zhang

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