The last five years have seen exciting advances in our understanding of the structure of the nucleosome core particle, the basic repeating unit in all eukaryotic chromatin. A picture emerges in which nucleosomal DNA, while distorted and compacted fivefold by tight interactions with the histone octamer core, is at the same time highly dynamic and adaptable. Here, we summarize the salient features from recent structural studies of nucleosome core particles (both published and unpublished) that concern the structure and dynamics of nucleosomal DNA, and the nature of protein-DNA interactions. Current mechanisms for chromatin remodeling and nucleosome sliding are discussed in light of new structural evidence. Finally, techniques to study nucleosome stability and ultimately dynamics are introduced.
Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.