Eukaryotic chromatin is composed of nucleosomes, which contain nearly two coils of DNA wrapped around a central histone octamer. The octamer contains an H3-H4 tetramer and two H2A-H2B dimers. Gene activation is associated with chromatin disruption: a wider nucleosome-depleted region (NDR) at the promoter and reduced nucleosome occupancy over the coding region. Here, we examine the nature of disrupted chromatin after induction, using MNase-seq to map nucleosomes and subnucleosomes, and a refined high-resolution ChIP-seq method to map H4, H2B and RNA polymerase II (Pol II) genome-wide. Over coding regions, induced genes show a differential loss of H2B relative to H4, which correlates with Pol II density and the appearance of subnucleosomes. After induction, Pol II is surprisingly low at the promoter, but accumulates on the gene and downstream of the termination site, implying that dissociation is very slow. Thus, induction-dependent chromatin disruption reflects both eviction of H2A-H2B dimers and the presence of queued Pol II elongation complexes. We propose that slow Pol II dissociation after transcription is a major factor in chromatin disruption and that it may be of critical importance in gene regulation.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research 2014. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.