The basic unit of chromatin, the nucleosome core particle (NCP), controls how DNA in eukaryotic cells is compacted, replicated and read. Since its discovery, biochemists have sought to understand how this protein-DNA complex can help to control so many diverse tasks. Recent electron-microscopy (EM) studies on NCP-containing assemblies have helped to describe important chromatin transactions at a molecular level. With the implementation of recent technical advances in single-particle EM, our understanding of how nucleosomes are recognized and read looks to take a leap forward. In this review, the authors highlight recent advances in the architectural understanding of chromatin biology elucidated by EM.
Keywords: chromatin; cryo-EM; cryo-electron microscopy; histone modification; integrase; nucleosome.