Nucleosomes structure and dynamics: Effect of CHAPS

Irina Menshikova, Evgeny Menshikov, Nina Filenko, Yuri L. Lyubchenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Dynamics of nucleosomes and spontaneous unwrapping of DNA are fundamental property of the chromatin enabling access to nucleosomal DNA for regulatory proteins. Probing of such dynamics of nucleosomes performed by single molecule techniques revealed a large scale dynamics of nucleosomes including their spontaneous unwrapping. Dissociation of nucleosomes at low concentrations is a complicating issue for studies with single molecule techniques. In this paper, we tested the ability of 3-[(3-Cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]-1-propanesulfonate (CHAPS) to prevent dissociation of nucleosomes. The study was performed with mononucleosome system assembled with human histones H2A, H2B, H3 and H4 on the DNA substrate containing sequence 601 that provides the sequencespecific assembly of nucleosomes. We used Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to directly identify nucleosomes and analyze their structure at the nanometer level. These studies showed that in the presence of CHAPS at millimolar concentrations, nucleosomes, even at sub-nanomolar concentrations, remain intact over days compared to a complete dissociation of the same nucleosome sample over 10 min in the absence of CHAPS. Importantly, CHAPS does not change the conformation of nucleosomes as confirmed by the AFM analysis. Moreover, 16 μM CHAPS stabilizes nucleosomes in over one hour incubation in the solution containing as low as 0.4 nM in nucleosomes. The stability of nucleosomes is slightly reduced at physiological conditions (150 mM NaCl), although the nucleosomes dissociate rapidly at 300 mM NaCl. The sequence specificity of the nucleosome in the presence of CHAPS decreased suggesting that the histone core translocates along the DNA substrate utilizing sliding mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


  • AFM
  • Chromatin
  • DNA
  • Nucleosome structure
  • Single molecule analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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