30 March 1995 Extended chromatin fibers: evidence from scanning force microscopy studies
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Unfixed chicken erythrocyte fibers in very low salt have been imaged using the scanning force microscope (SFM) operating in the tapping mode in air at ambient humidity. These images reveal a 3D organization of the fibers. The planar 'zig-zag' conformation is rare, and extended 'beads- on-a-string' fibers are seen only in chromatin depleted of H1 and H5. Glutaraldehyde fixation reveals very similar structures. Fibers fixed in 10 mM salt appear somewhat more compacted. These results, when compared with modeling studies indicate that chromatin fibers may exist as irregular 3D arrays of nucleosomes even at low ionic strength. The basic subunit of chromatin, the nucleosome, is composed of a core particle of 146 bp of DNA wrapping 1.75 left-handed superhelical turns around an octamer of core histones and of DNA connecting consecutive core particles. The linker of lysine-rich histones (H1 family) bind the DNA entering and exiting the nucleosome core particle. We suggest that by binding the entry/exit DNA, histone H1 may fix the entry/exit DNA angle. The fixed entry/exit angle, the rigidity of the linker DNA at low ionic strength, and the natural variability of the linker DNA length determine an irregular 3D fiber of chromatin. Our results emphasize the role of H1 in determining the entry/exit DNA angle, which further helps determine the mutual disposition of adjacent nucleosomes an the packing of the chromatin fiber.
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Sanford S. Leuba, Guoliang Yang, Charles Robert, Kensal van Holde, Jordanka Zlatanova, Carlos J. Bustamante, "Extended chromatin fibers: evidence from scanning force microscopy studies", Proc. SPIE 2384, Scanning Probe Microscopies III, (30 March 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.205934; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.205934

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