Nucleosomes inhibit the initiation of transcription but allow chain elongation with the displacement of histones

Cell. 1987 Apr 24;49(2):203-10. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(87)90561-7.


Promoters were assembled in nucleosomes or ligated to nucleosomes and transcribed with SP6 RNA polymerase or with mammalian RNA polymerase II and accessory factors. Neither polymerase would initiate transcription at a promoter in a nucleosome, but once engaged in transcription, both polymerases were capable of reading through a nucleosome. In the course of readthrough transcription, the histones were displaced from the DNA, as shown by the exposure of restriction sites and by a shift of the template to the position of naked DNA in a gel. It may be true, in general, that processive enzymes will traverse regions of DNA organized in nucleosomes and displace histones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / physiology
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Histones / physiology*
  • Nucleosomes / physiology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Templates, Genetic
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases