DNA sequence preferences of transcriptional activators correlate more strongly than repressors with nucleosomes

Mol Cell. 2012 Jul 27;47(2):183-92. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.06.028.


Transcription factors (TFs) and histone octamers are two abundant classes of DNA binding proteins that coordinate the transcriptional program in cells. Detailed studies of individual TFs have shown that TFs bind to nucleosome-occluded DNA sequences and induce nucleosome disruption/repositioning, while recent global studies suggest this is not the only mechanism used by all TFs. We have analyzed to what extent the intrinsic DNA binding preferences of TFs and histones play a role in determining nucleosome occupancy, in addition to nonintrinsic factors such as the enzymatic activity of chromatin remodelers. The majority of TFs in budding yeast have an intrinsic sequence preference overlapping with nucleosomal histones. TFs with intrinsic DNA binding properties highly correlated with those of histones tend to be associated with gene activation and might compete with histones to bind to genomic DNA. Consistent with this, we show that activators induce more nucleosome disruption upon transcriptional activation than repressors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transcriptional Activation*


  • Chromatin
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes