Epigenetic regulation may involve heritable chromatin states, but how chromatin features can be inherited through DNA replication is incompletely understood. We address this question using cell-free replication of chromatin. Previously, we showed that a Polycomb group complex, PRC1, remains continuously associated with chromatin through DNA replication. Here we investigate the mechanism of persistence. We find that a single PRC1 subunit, Posterior sex combs (PSC), can reconstitute persistence through DNA replication. PSC binds nucleosomes and self-interacts, bridging nucleosomes into a stable, oligomeric structure. Within these structures, individual PSC-chromatin contacts are dynamic. Stable association of PSC with chromatin, including through DNA replication, depends on PSC-PSC interactions. Our data suggest that labile individual PSC-chromatin contacts allow passage of the DNA replication machinery while PSC-PSC interactions prevent PSC from dissociating, allowing it to rebind to replicated chromatin. This mechanism may allow inheritance of chromatin proteins including PRC1 through DNA replication to maintain chromatin states.
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