In the yeast genome, a large proportion of nucleosomes occupy well-defined and stable positions. While the contribution of chromatin remodelers and DNA binding proteins to maintain this organization is well established, the relevance of the DNA sequence to nucleosome positioning in the genome remains controversial. Through quantitative analysis of nucleosome positioning, we show that sequence changes distort the nucleosomal pattern at the level of individual nucleosomes in three species of Schizosaccharomyces and in Saccharomyces cerevisiae This effect is equally detected in transcribed and nontranscribed regions, suggesting the existence of sequence elements that contribute to positioning. To identify such elements, we incorporated information from nucleosomal signatures into artificial synthetic DNA molecules and found that they generated regular nucleosomal arrays indistinguishable from those of endogenous sequences. Strikingly, this information is species-specific and can be combined with coding information through the use of synonymous codons such that genes from one species can be engineered to adopt the nucleosomal organization of another. These findings open the possibility of designing coding and noncoding DNA molecules capable of directing their own nucleosomal organization.
© 2016 González et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.