Active and Repressed Chromatin Domains Exhibit Distinct Nucleosome Segregation during DNA Replication

Cell. 2019 Oct 31;179(4):953-963.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.10.009.


Chromatin domains and their associated structures must be faithfully inherited through cellular division to maintain cellular identity. However, accessing the localized strategies preserving chromatin domain inheritance, specifically the transfer of parental, pre-existing nucleosomes with their associated post-translational modifications (PTMs) during DNA replication, is challenging in living cells. We devised an inducible, proximity-dependent labeling system to irreversibly mark replication-dependent H3.1 and H3.2 histone-containing nucleosomes at desired loci in mouse embryonic stem cells so that their fate after DNA replication could be followed. Strikingly, repressed chromatin domains are preserved through local re-deposition of parental nucleosomes. In contrast, nucleosomes decorating active chromatin domains do not exhibit such preservation. Notably, altering cell fate leads to an adjustment of the positional inheritance of parental nucleosomes that reflects the corresponding changes in chromatin structure. These findings point to important mechanisms that contribute to parental nucleosome segregation to preserve cellular identity.

Keywords: DNA replication; epigenetic; gene expression; gene silencing; parental nucleosome segregation; polycomb; post-translational histone modifications; repressed chromatin domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Cell Lineage / genetics
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / genetics*
  • DNA Replication / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histones / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Nucleosomes / genetics*
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes