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Characterization of Z-DNA as a nucleosome-boundary element in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Wong, Ben, Chen, Shuai, Kwon, Jin-Ah, Rich, Alexander
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007 v.104 no.7 pp. 2229-2234
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, yeasts, Z-DNA, nucleosomes, repetitive sequences, transcription (genetics), DNA-directed RNA polymerase, promoter regions, chromatin
In this article, the effect of a d(CG) DNA dinucleotide repeat sequence on RNA polymerase II transcription is examined in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Our previous report shows that a d(CG)n dinucleotide repeat sequence located proximally upstream of the TATA box enhances transcription from a minimal CYC1 promoter in a manner that depends on its surrounding negative supercoiling. Here, we demonstrate that the d(CG)₉ repeat sequence stimulates gene activity by forming a Z-DNA secondary structure. Furthermore, the extent of transcriptional enhancement by Z-DNA is promoter-specific and determined by its separation distance relative to the TATA box. The stimulatory effect exerted by promoter proximal Z-DNA is not affected by helical phasing relative to the TATA box, suggesting that Z-DNA effects transcription without interacting with the general transcription machinery by looping-out the intervening DNA. A nucleosome-scanning assay reveals that the d(CG)₉ repeat sequence in the Z conformation blocks nucleosome formation, and it is found in the linker DNA with two flanking nucleosomes. This result suggests that Z-DNA formation proximally upstream of a promoter is sufficient to demarcate the boundaries of its neighboring nucleosomes, which produces transcriptionally favorable locations for the TATA box near the nucleosomal DNA-entry site and at dyad positions on the nucleosome. These findings suggest that Z-DNA formation in chromatin is a part of the "genomic code" for nucleosome positioning in vivo.