Nucleosome distortion as a possible mechanism of transcription activation domain function

Epigenetics Chromatin. 2016 Sep 20;9:40. doi: 10.1186/s13072-016-0092-2. eCollection 2016.


After more than three decades since the discovery of transcription activation domains (ADs) in gene-specific activators, the mechanism of their function remains enigmatic. The widely accepted model of direct recruitment by ADs of co-activators and basal transcriptional machinery components, however, is not always compatible with the short size yet very high degree of sequence randomness and intrinsic structural disorder of natural and synthetic ADs. In this review, we formulate the basis for an alternative and complementary model, whereby sequence randomness and intrinsic structural disorder of ADs are necessary for transient distorting interactions with promoter nucleosomes, triggering promoter nucleosome translocation and subsequently gene activation.

Keywords: Chromatin; Chromatin remodeling; Intrinsically disordered region; Transcription regulation; Transcriptional activation domain.

Publication types

  • Review