Many eukaryotic genes are regulated at the level of transcript elongation. Nucleosomes are likely targets for this regulation. Previously, we have shown that nucleosomes formed on very strong positioning sequences (601 and 603), present a high, orientation-dependent barrier to transcription by RNA polymerase II in vitro. The existence of this polar barrier correlates with the interaction of a 16-bp polar barrier signal (PBS) with the promoter-distal histone H3-H4 dimer. Here, we show that the polar barrier is relieved by ISW2, an ATP-dependent chromatin remodeler, which translocates the nucleosome over a short distance, such that the PBS no longer interacts with the distal H3-H4 dimer, although it remains within the nucleosome. In vivo, insertion of the 603 positioning sequence into the yeast CUP1 gene results in a modest reduction in transcription, but this reduction is orientation-independent, indicating that the polar barrier can be circumvented. However, the 603-nucleosome is present at the expected position in only a small fraction of cells. Thus, the polar barrier is probably non-functional in vivo because the nucleosome is not positioned appropriately, presumably due to nucleosome sliding activities. We suggest that interactions between PBSs and chromatin remodelers might have significant regulatory potential.
ASJC Scopus subject areas