Plug-and-Play Approach for Preparing Chromatin Containing Site-Specific DNA Modifications: The Influence of Chromatin Structure on Base Excision Repair.
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The genomic DNA of eukaryotic cells exists in the form of chromatin, the structure of which controls the biochemical accessibility of the underlying DNA to effector proteins. In order to gain an in depth molecular understanding of how chromatin structure regulates DNA repair, detailed in vitro biochemical and biophysical studies are required. However, because of challenges associated with reconstituting nucleosome arrays containing site-specifically positioned DNA modifications, such studies have been limited to the use of mono- and dinucleosomes as model in vitro substrates, which are incapable of folding into native chromatin structures. To address this issue, we developed a straightforward and general approach for assembling chemically defined oligonucleosome arrays (i.e., designer chromatin) containing site-specifically modified DNA. Our method takes advantage of nicking endonucleases to excise short fragments of unmodified DNA, which are subsequently replaced with synthetic oligonucleotides containing the desired modification. Using this approach, we prepared several oligonucleosome substrates containing precisely positioned 2'-deoxyuridine (dU) residues and examined the efficiency of base excision repair (BER) within several distinct chromatin architectures. We show that, depending on the translational position of the lesion, the combined catalytic activities of uracil DNA glycosylase (UDG) and apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1) can be either inhibited by as much as 20-fold or accelerated by more than 5-fold within compact chromatin (i.e., the 30 nm fiber) relative to naked DNA. Moreover, we demonstrate that digestion of dU by UDG/APE1 proceeds much more rapidly in mononucleosomes than in compacted nucleosome arrays, thereby providing the first direct evidence that internucleosome interactions play an important role in regulating BER within higher-order chromatin structures. Overall, this work highlights the value of performing detailed biochemical studies on precisely modified chromatin substrates in vitro and provides a robust platform for investigating DNA modifications in chromatin biology.