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  • 1
    Abstract: The eukaryotic genome is organized in a chain of nucleosomes that consist of 145-147 bp of DNA wrapped around a histone octamer protein core. Binding of transcription factors (TF) to nucleosomal DNA is frequently impeded, which makes it a challenging task to calculate TF occupancy at a given regulatory genomic site for predicting gene expression. Here, we review methods to calculate TF binding to DNA in the presence of nucleosomes. The main theoretical problems are (i) the computation speed that is becoming a bottleneck when partial unwrapping of DNA from the nucleosome is considered, (ii) the perturbation of the binding equilibrium by the activity of ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers, which translocate nucleosomes along the DNA, and (iii) the model parameterization from high-throughput sequencing data and fluorescence microscopy experiments in living cells. We discuss strategies that address these issues to efficiently compute transcription factor binding in chromatin.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 23523656
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  • 2
    Keywords: SACCHAROMYCES-CEREVISIAE ; transcription ; BINDING ; ORGANIZATION ; LINKER HISTONE ; GENE-REGULATION ; CHROMATIN-STRUCTURE ; LARGE LIGANDS ; EUKARYOTIC GENOME ; PHASE-TRANSITION
    Abstract: The nucleosome repeat length (NRL) is an integral chromatin property important for its biological functions. Recent experiments revealed several conflicting trends of the NRL dependence on the concentrations of histones and other architectural chromatin proteins, both in vitro and in vivo, but a systematic theoretical description of NRL as a function of DNA sequence and epigenetic determinants is currently lacking. To address this problem, we have performed an integrative biophysical and bioinformatics analysis in species ranging from yeast to frog to mouse where NRL was studied as a function of various parameters. We show that in simple eukaryotes such as yeast, a lower limit for the NRL value exists, determined by internucleosome interactions and remodeler action. For higher eukaryotes, also the upper limit exists since NRL is an increasing but saturating function of the linker histone concentration. Counterintuitively, smaller H1 variants or non-histone architectural proteins can initiate larger effects on the NRL due to entropic reasons. Furthermore, we demonstrate that different regimes of the NRL dependence on histone concentrations exist depending on whether DNA sequence-specific effects dominate over boundary effects or vice versa. We consider several classes of genomic regions with apparently different regimes of the NRL variation. As one extreme, our analysis reveals that the period of oscillations of the nucleosome density around bound RNA polymerase coincides with the period of oscillations of positioning sites of the corresponding DNA sequence. At another extreme, we show that although mouse major satellite repeats intrinsically encode well-defined nucleosome preferences, they have no unique nucleosome arrangement and can undergo a switch between two distinct types of nucleosome positioning.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24992723
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  • 3
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    Physical Biology 11 (4), Art. Nr.: 044001- 
    Keywords: RESOLUTION ; COMPLEX ; DNA ; CHROMATIN FIBER STRUCTURE ; LINKER HISTONE ; H1 ; STOICHIOMETRY ; STATE ; POLYELECTROLYTE ADSORPTION ; CHARGE-DISTRIBUTION
    Abstract: Within a simple biophysical model we describe the effect of electrostatic binding of H1 histone proteins on the nucleosome repeat length in chromatin. The length of wrapped DNA optimizes its binding energy to the histone core and the elastic energy penalty of DNA wrapping. The magnitude of the effect predicted from our model is in agreement with the systematic experimental data on the linear variation of nucleosome repeat lengths with H1/nucleosome ratio (Woodcock C L et al 2006 Chromos. Res. 14 17-25). We compare our model to the data for different cell types and organisms, with a widely varying ratio of bound H1 histones per nucleosome. We underline the importance of this non-specific histone-DNA charge-balance mechanism in regulating the positioning of nucleosomes and the degree of compaction of chromatin fibers in eukaryotic cells.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 25078656
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  • 4
    Keywords: MODEL ; GENOME ; DNA ; DYNAMICS ; METHYLATION ; GENE-REGULATION ; CHROMATIN FIBER ; HISTONE H3 ; MATRIX FORMALISM ; CHROMODOMAIN
    Abstract: Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) participates in establishing and maintaining heterochromatin via its histone-modification-dependent chromatin interactions. In recent papers HP1 binding to nucleosomal arrays was measured in vitro and interpreted in terms of nearest-neighbour cooperative binding. This mode of chromatin interaction could lead to the spreading of HP1 along the nucleosome chain. Here, we reanalysed previous data by representing the nucleosome chain as a 1D binding lattice and showed how the experimental HP1 binding isotherms can be explained by a simpler model without cooperative interactions between neighboring HP1 dimers. Based on these calculations and spatial models of dinucleosomes and nucleosome chains, we propose that binding stoichiometry depends on the nucleosome repeat length (NRL) rather than protein interactions between HP1 dimers. According to our calculations, more open nucleosome arrays with long DNA linkers are characterized by a larger number of binding sites in comparison to chains with a short NRL. Furthermore, we demonstrate by Monte Carlo simulations that the NRL dependent folding of the nucleosome chain can induce allosteric changes of HP1 binding sites. Thus, HP1 chromatin interactions can be modulated by the change of binding stoichiometry and the type of binding to condensed (methylated) and non-condensed (unmethylated) nucleosome arrays in the absence of direct interactions between HP1 dimers.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 25563825
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  • 5
    Abstract: BACKGROUND: Biomedical applications of high-throughput sequencing methods generate a vast amount of data in which numerous chromatin features are mapped along the genome. The results are frequently analysed by creating binary data sets that link the presence/absence of a given feature to specific genomic loci. However, the nucleosome occupancy or chromatin accessibility landscape is essentially continuous. It is currently a challenge in the field to cope with continuous distributions of deep sequencing chromatin readouts and to integrate the different types of discrete chromatin features to reveal linkages between them. RESULTS: Here we introduce the NucTools suite of Perl scripts as well as MATLAB- and R-based visualization programs for a nucleosome-centred downstream analysis of deep sequencing data. NucTools accounts for the continuous distribution of nucleosome occupancy. It allows calculations of nucleosome occupancy profiles averaged over several replicates, comparisons of nucleosome occupancy landscapes between different experimental conditions, and the estimation of the changes of integral chromatin properties such as the nucleosome repeat length. Furthermore, NucTools facilitates the annotation of nucleosome occupancy with other chromatin features like binding of transcription factors or architectural proteins, and epigenetic marks like histone modifications or DNA methylation. The applications of NucTools are demonstrated for the comparison of several datasets for nucleosome occupancy in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). CONCLUSIONS: The typical workflows of data processing and integrative analysis with NucTools reveal information on the interplay of nucleosome positioning with other features such as for example binding of a transcription factor CTCF, regions with stable and unstable nucleosomes, and domains of large organized chromatin K9me2 modifications (LOCKs). As potential limitations and problems we discuss how inter-replicate variability of MNase-seq experiments can be addressed.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 28196481
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  • 6
    Keywords: CELLS ; GENOME ; CHROMATIN ; ORGANIZATION ; HIGH-RESOLUTION
    Abstract: MOTIVATION: Recent experimental advancements allow determining positions of nucleosomes for complete genomes. However, the resulting nucleosome occupancy maps are averages of heterogeneous cell populations. Accordingly, they represent a snapshot of a dynamic ensemble at a single time point with an overlay of many configurations from different cells. To study the organization of nucleosomes along the genome and to understand the mechanisms of nucleosome translocation, it is necessary to retrieve features of specific conformations from the population average. RESULTS: Here, we present a method for identifying non-overlapping nucleosome configurations that combines binary-variable analysis and a Monte Carlo approach with a simulated annealing scheme. In this manner, we obtain specific nucleosome configurations and optimized solutions for the complex positioning patterns from experimental data. We apply the method to compare nucleosome positioning at transcription factor binding sites in different mouse cell types. Our method can model nucleosome translocations at regulatory genomic elements and generate configurations for simulations of the spatial folding of the nucleosome chain. AVAILABILITY: Source code, precompiled binaries, test data and a web-based test installation are freely available at http://bioinformatics.fh-stralsund.de/nucpos/ CONTACT: gero.wedemann@fh-stralsund.de SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 23846748
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  • 7
    Keywords: DNA ; CHROMOSOMES ; Meiosis ; STEM-CELL DEVELOPMENT
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24998943
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  • 8
    Abstract: Cell differentiation is associated with changes in chromatin organization and gene expression. In this study, we examine chromatin structure following differentiation of the human myeloid leukemia cell line (HL-60/S4) into granulocytes with retinoic acid (RA) or into macrophage with phorbol ester (TPA). We performed ChIP-seq of histone H3 and its modifications, analyzing changes in nucleosome occupancy, nucleosome repeat length, eu-/heterochromatin redistribution and properties of epichromatin (surface chromatin adjacent to the nuclear envelope). Nucleosome positions changed genome-wide, exhibiting a specific class of alterations involving nucleosome loss in extended ( approximately 1kb) regions, pronounced in enhancers and promoters. Genes that lost nucleosomes at their promoters showed a tendency to be upregulated. On the other hand, nucleosome gain did not show simple effects on transcript levels. The average genome-wide nucleosome repeat length (NRL) did not change significantly with differentiation. However, we detected an approximate 10 bp NRL decrease around the haematopoietic transcription factor (TF) PU.1 and the architectural protein CTCF, suggesting an effect on NRL proximal to TF binding sites. Nucleosome occupancy changed in regions associated with active promoters in differentiated cells, compared with untreated HL-60/S4 cells. Epichromatin regions revealed an increased GC content and high nucleosome density compared with surrounding chromatin. Epichromatin showed depletion of major histone modifications and revealed enrichment with PML body-associated genes. In general, chromatin changes during HL-60/S4 differentiation appeared to be more localized to regulatory regions, compared with genome-wide changes among diverse cell types studied elsewhere.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 28406749
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  • 9
    Keywords: MODEL ; GENE-EXPRESSION ; GENOME ; REVEALS ; METHYLATION ; ARCHITECTURE ; TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR-BINDING ; ISLANDS ; CHROMATIN ACCESSIBILITY ; PLURIPOTENT CELLS
    Abstract: During differentiation of embryonic stem cells, chromatin reorganizes to establish cell type-specific expression programs. Here, we have dissected the linkages between DNA methylation (5mC), hydroxymethylation (5hmC), nucleosome repositioning, and binding of the transcription factor CTCF during this process. By integrating MNase-seq and ChIP-seq experiments in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC) and their differentiated counterparts with biophysical modeling, we found that the interplay between these factors depends on their genomic context. The mostly unmethylated CpG islands have reduced nucleosome occupancy and are enriched in cell type-independent binding sites for CTCF. The few remaining methylated CpG dinucleotides are preferentially associated with nucleosomes. In contrast, outside of CpG islands most CpGs are methylated, and the average methylation density oscillates so that it is highest in the linker region between nucleosomes. Outside CpG islands, binding of TET1, an enzyme that converts 5mC to 5hmC, is associated with labile, MNase-sensitive nucleosomes. Such nucleosomes are poised for eviction in ESCs and become stably bound in differentiated cells where the TET1 and 5hmC levels go down. This process regulates a class of CTCF binding sites outside CpG islands that are occupied by CTCF in ESCs but lose the protein during differentiation. We rationalize this cell type-dependent targeting of CTCF with a quantitative biophysical model of competitive binding with the histone octamer, depending on the TET1, 5hmC, and 5mC state.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24812327
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