Nucleosome stacking in chromatin fibers probed with single-molecule force- and torque-spectroscopy
In human cells, a meter-long DNA is condensed inside a micrometer-sized cell nucleus. Simultaneously, the genetic code must remain accessible for its replication and transcription to functional proteins.
- Kaczmarczyk, A.
- 19 June 2019
- Thesis in Leiden Repository
In human cells, a meter-long DNA is condensed inside a micrometer-sized cell nucleus. Simultaneously, the genetic code must remain accessible for its replication and transcription to functional proteins. Such plasticity of the genome is maintained by dynamic folding and unfolding of DNA-protein spools called nucleosomes. It is unclear, however, how this process is controlled when multiple nucleosomes stack on top of each other and form compact chromatin fibers. This is particularly important since nucleosomes are rarely present in isolation inside a densely packed cell nucleus. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to increase the understanding of the chromatin fiber structure and its dynamics. Knowing these details would provide many new insights into the mechanisms of gene expression (epigenetic regulation) which, upon malfunction, may cause severe diseases. The presented work consists of an experimental approach involving the application of single-molecule force spectroscopy, and makes use of theoretical modelling based on statistical mechanics. By using magnetic tweezers, we stretched and twisted individual chromatin fibers reconstituted in vitro in order to unfold its nucleosomes. These studies show that folding of nucleosomes into chromatin fibers opens up a plethora of regulatory pathways for controlling the level of DNA organization in cells.