The nucleosomal subunit organization of chromatin provides a multitude of functions. Nucleosomes elicit an initial ∼7-fold linear compaction of genomic DNA. They provide a critical mechanism for stable repression of genes and other DNA-dependent activities by restricting binding of trans-acting factors to cognate DNA sequences. Conversely they are engineered to be nearly meta-stable and disassembled (and reassembled) in a facile manner to allow rapid access to the underlying DNA during processes such as transcription, replication and DNA repair. Nucleosomes protect the genome from DNA damaging agents and provide a lattice onto which a myriad of epigenetic signals are deposited. Moreover, vast strings of nucleosomes provide a framework for assembly of the chromatin fiber and higher-order chromatin structures. Thus, in order to provide a foundation for understanding these functions, we present a review of the basic elements of nucleosome structure and stability, including the association of linker histones.
Keywords: Chromatin structure; Histone; Nucleosome structure.
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