Nucleosomes are the basic units of chromatin. They compact the genome inside the nucleus and regulate the access of proteins to DNA. In the yeast genome, most nucleosomes occupy well-defined positions, which are maintained under many different physiological situations and genetic backgrounds. Although several short sequence elements have been described that favor or reduce the affinity between histones and DNA, the extent to which the DNA sequence affects nucleosome positioning in the genomic context remains unclear. Recent analyses indicate that the base composition pattern of mononucleosomal DNA differs among species, and that the same sequence elements have a different impact on nucleosome positioning in different genomes despite the high level of phylogenetic conservation of histones. These studies have also shown that the DNA sequence contributes to nucleosome positioning to the point that it is possible to design synthetic DNA molecules capable of generating regular and species-specific nucleosomal patterns in vivo.
Keywords: base composition; chromatin; evolution; genome organization; nucleosome.