Chromatin under mechanical stress: From single 30 nm fibers to single nucleosomes

Jan Bednar, Stefan Dimitrov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

About a decade ago, the elastic properties of a single chromatin fiber and, subsequently, those of a single nucleosome started to be explored using optical and magnetic tweezers. These techniques have allowed direct measurements of several essential physical parameters of individual nucleosomes and nucleosomal arrays, including the forces responsible for the maintenance of the structure of both the chromatin fiber and the individual nucleosomes, as well as the mechanism of their unwinding under mechanical stress. Experiments on the assembly of individual chromatin fibers have illustrated the complexity of the process and the key role of certain specific components. Nevertheless a substantial disparity exists in the data reported from various experiments. Chromatin, unlike naked DNA, is a system which is extremely sensitive to environmental conditions, and studies carried out under even slightly different conditions are difficult to compare directly. In this review we summarize the available data and their impact on our knowledge of both nucleosomal structure and the dynamics of nucleosome and chromatin fiber assembly and organization. Single molecule experiments on nucleosomes or chromatin arrays have brought new insight into the mechanical properties of chromatin and its integrity and stability. In this review we summarize available data from such studies and their impact on our knowledge of both nucleosomal structure and the dynamics of nucleosome and chromatin fiber assembly and organization

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2231-2243
Number of pages13
JournalFEBS Journal
Volume278
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • chromatin
  • micro-manipulation
  • nucleosome
  • optical tweezers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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