Intra- and inter-nucleosome interactions of the core histone tail domains in higher-order chromatin structure
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- Pepenella, S., Murphy, K.J. & Hayes, J.J. Chromosoma (2014) 123: 3. doi:10.1007/s00412-013-0435-8
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Eukaryotic chromatin is a hierarchical collection of nucleoprotein structures that package DNA to form chromosomes. The initial levels of packaging include folding of long strings of nucleosomes into secondary structures and array–array association into higher-order tertiary chromatin structures. The core histone tail domains are required for the assembly of higher-order structures and mediate short- and long-range intra- and inter-nucleosome interactions with both DNA and protein targets to direct their assembly. However, important details of these interactions remain unclear and are a subject of much interest and recent investigations. Here, we review work defining the interactions of the histone N-terminal tails with DNA and protein targets relevant to chromatin higher-order structures, with a specific emphasis on the contributions of H3 and H4 tails to oligonucleosome folding and stabilization. We evaluate both classic and recent experiments determining tail structures, effect of tail cleavage/loss, and posttranslational modifications of the tails on nucleosomes and nucleosome arrays, as well as inter-nucleosomal and inter-array interactions of the H3 and H4 N-terminal tails.