Background: Most eukaryotic DNA contained in the nucleus is packaged by wrapping DNA around histone octamers. Histones are ubiquitous and bind most regions of chromosomal DNA. In order to achieve smooth wrapping of the DNA around the histone octamer, the DNA duplex should be able to deform and should possess intrinsic curvature. The deformability of DNA is a result of the non-parallelness of base pair stacks. The stacking interaction between base pairs is sequence dependent. The higher the stacking energy the more rigid the DNA helix, thus it is natural to expect that sequences that are involved in wrapping around the histone octamer should be unstacked and possess intrinsic curvature. Intrinsic curvature has been shown to be dictated by the periodic recurrence of certain dinucleotides. Several genome-wide studies directed towards mapping of nucleosome positions have revealed periodicity associated with certain stretches of sequences. In the current study, these sequences have been analyzed with a view to understand their sequence-dependent structures.
Results: Higher order DNA structures and the distribution of molecular bend loci associated with 146 base nucleosome core DNA sequence from C. elegans and chicken have been analyzed using the theoretical model for DNA curvature. The curvature dispersion calculated by cyclically permuting the sequences revealed that the molecular bend loci were delocalized throughout the nucleosome core region and had varying degrees of intrinsic curvature.
Conclusions: The higher order structures associated with nucleosomes of C.elegans and chicken calculated from the sequences revealed heterogeneity with respect to the deviation of the DNA axis. The results points to the possibility of context dependent curvature of varying degrees to be associated with nucleosomal DNA.