Formation of higher-order secondary and tertiary chromatin structures by genomic mouse mammary tumor virus promoters

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Agarose multigel electrophoresis has been used to characterize the structural features of isolated genomic mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) promoters. The mouse 3134cells used for these studies contain ∼200 stably integrated tandem repeats of a 2.4-kb MMTV promoter fragment. Inactive, basally active, and hormonally activated genomic promoters were liberated by restriction digestion of isolated nuclei, recovered in low-salt nuclear extracts, and electrophoresed in multigels consisting of nine individual agarose running gels. Specific bands were detected and characterized by Southern and Western blotting. We find that transcriptionally inactive promoters contain TBP and high levels of histone H1, and are present to varying extents in both untreated and dexamethasone (DEX)-treated 3134cells. In contrast, the basally active promoter, present in untreated cells, is bound to RNA Pol II, TBP, and Oct1, contains acetylated H3 tail domains, and is depleted of histone H1. The DEX-activated promoter possessed similar composition as the basal promoter, but also contains stably bound Brg1. Strikingly, all forms of the MMTV promoter condense into higher-order secondary and/or tertiary chromatin structures in vitro in the presence of Mg2+. Thus, genomic MMTV promoter chromatin retains the ability to form classical higher-order structures under physiological salt conditions, even after dissociation of H1 and binding of several transcription factors and multiprotein complexes. These results suggest that transcriptionally active eukaryotic promoters may function in a locally folded chromatin environment in vivo.


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