||Free Energy Profiles for Unwrapping the Outer Superhelical Turn of Nucleosomal DNA
H., Kono, ,
S., Sakuraba,H., Ishida,
e1006024-21 , 2018-03 , Public Library of Science
The eukaryotic genome is packaged into a nucleus in the form of chromatin. The fundamental structural unit of chromatin is a protein-DNA complex, the nucleosome, where 146 or 147 base pairs of DNA wrap 1.75 times around a histone core. To function in cellular processes, however, nucleosomal DNA must be unwrapped. Although this unwrapping has been experimentally investigated, details of the process at an atomic level are not yet well understood. Here, we used molecular dynamics simulation with an enhanced sampling method to calculate the free energy profiles for unwrapping the outer-turn of nucleosomal DNA. A free energy change of about 11.5 kcal/mol for the unwrapping agrees well with values obtained in single molecule experiments. This simulation revealed a variety of conformational states, indicating there are many potential paths to outer-turn unwrapping, but the dominant path is likely asymmetric. At one end of the DNA, the first five bps unwrap, after which a second five bps unwrap at the same end with no increase in free energy. The unwrapping then starts at the other end of the DNA, where 10 bps are unwrapped. During further unwrapping of 15 bps, the unwrapping advances at one of the ends, after which the other end of the DNA unwraps to complete the unwrapping of the outer-turn. These results provide insight into the construction, disruption, and repositioning of nucleosomes, which are continuously ongoing during cellular processes.