Effect of Z-DNA on nucleosome placement

J Mol Biol. 1987 Aug 5;196(3):581-90. doi: 10.1016/0022-2836(87)90034-9.


Histone octamers were reconstituted on plasmids carrying the alternating nucleotide sequence (G-C)15. The plasmids, radioactively labeled at one of two neighboring sites near the (G-C) insert, were digested with micrococcal nuclease. Nucleosome core particles were isolated and the monomer DNA subjected to restriction analysis. Quite different results are obtained if the reconstitution is carried out with relaxed plasmids, in which the (G-C) insert is in the B form, or with supercoiled plasmids, where it is in the Z form. With supercoiled plasmids, there is a marked reduction (compared with relaxed plasmids) in the abundance of labeled monomers, the result of a large decrease in core particles carrying any (G-C) sequence. Some core particles formed on supercoiled (Z) plasmids are positioned either just outside the (G-C) sequence, or with the sequence occupying the terminal position within the core particle. In contrast, monomers obtained from relaxed plasmids incorporate the (G-C) sequence in the B form more or less randomly in the interior of the core particle; species showing discrete positioning make only a minor contribution. We conclude that DNA in the Z form cannot be incorporated within core particles, except at their termini, and that a transition from the B to the Z form in vivo might result in a significantly altered local placement of nucleosomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Composition
  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient
  • DNA*
  • DNA, Superhelical
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism*
  • Plasmids


  • DNA, Superhelical
  • Nucleosomes
  • DNA