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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Echinomycin and distamycin induce rotation of nucleosome core DNA.

When nucleosome cores reconstituted from chicken erythrocyte histones and a 160 bp DNA molecule are exposed to echinomycin, a bis-intercalating antitumour antibiotic, the DNA appears to rotate with respect to the histone octamer by about half a turn. New bands appear in patterns of DNAase I digestion at positions approximately mid-way between those characteristic of control core samples, while the control pattern is largely suppressed. Similar (but not identical) changes are produced when nucleosome cores are exposed to distamycin, a non-intercalating DNA-binding antibiotic. The effects of both ligands can be explained in terms of a change in rotational orientation of the core DNA, so as to place antibiotic binding sites on the inward-facing (concave) surface of the DNA supercoil. Presumably this serves to optimise non-bonded contacts with the polynucleotide backbone. These results establish that the positioning of DNA about the histone octamer is not absolutely determined by its nucleotide sequence, but may be modified by the binding of such relatively small molecules as antibiotics.[1]


  1. Echinomycin and distamycin induce rotation of nucleosome core DNA. Low, C.M., Drew, H.R., Waring, M.J. Nucleic Acids Res. (1986) [Pubmed]
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