Control of chromatin structure by spt6: different consequences in coding and regulatory regions

Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Feb;31(3):531-41. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01068-10. Epub 2010 Nov 22.


Spt6 is a highly conserved factor required for normal transcription and chromatin structure. To gain new insights into the roles of Spt6, we measured nucleosome occupancy along Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosome III in an spt6 mutant. We found that the level of nucleosomes is greatly reduced across some, but not all, coding regions in an spt6 mutant, with nucleosome loss preferentially occurring over highly transcribed genes. This result provides strong support for recent studies that have suggested that transcription at low levels does not displace nucleosomes, while transcription at high levels does, and adds the idea that Spt6 is required for restoration of nucleosomes at the highly transcribed genes. Unexpectedly, our studies have also suggested that the spt6 effects on nucleosome levels across coding regions do not cause the spt6 effects on mRNA levels, suggesting that the role of Spt6 across coding regions is separate from its role in transcriptional regulation. In the case of the CHA1 gene, regulation by Spt6 likely occurs by controlling the position of the +1 nucleosome. These results, along with previous studies, suggest that Spt6 regulates transcription by controlling chromatin structure over regulatory regions, and its effects on nucleosome levels over coding regions likely serve an independent function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / chemistry*
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / drug effects
  • Chromosomes, Fungal / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / drug effects
  • Genes, Fungal / genetics
  • Histone Chaperones
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Nucleosomes / drug effects
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism
  • Open Reading Frames / genetics*
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / drug effects
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Serine / pharmacology
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors / metabolism*


  • Chromatin
  • Histone Chaperones
  • Histones
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Nucleosomes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repressor Proteins
  • SPT6 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors
  • Serine
  • RNA Polymerase II