Cornell University

Biophysics Colloquium with Lu Bai

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Clark Hall, 700
Central Campus

Lu Bai, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State University

Host: Michelle Wang

Identification and functional study of nucleosome-depleting factors

Nucleosomes present a barrier for the binding of most transcription factors (TFs). However, a special group of TFs can invade compact chromosome and deplete nucleosomes near their binding sites. These TFs, known as nucleosome-depleting factors (NDFs), direct the binding of other TFs and enable them to activate transcription. Despite NDFs’ essential functions, we lack an experimental scheme to systematically categorize them and measure their nucleosome-depleting activities on a genome-wide scale. Here, by generating a complex library of synthetic regulatory elements and measuring the nucleosome occupancy on these sequences in vivo, we developed a high-throughput assay to identify NDFs from genome-wide TFs and to systematically evaluate the impact of the location, orientation, copy number, and combination of factor binding sites on the nucleosome-depleting activities. We applied this method to budding yeast and identified both new and established NDFs with variable nucleosome-depleting activities. We found that the activity of strong NDFs show topological relationships with nucleosome structure, and multiple closely-spaced weak NDFs can lead to significant nucleosome depletion, presumably through nucleosome-mediated cooperativity. By comparing the properties of TFs with different nucleosome-depleting activities, we propose that strong NDFs may function by directly competing with histones for the same DNA, while weak NDFs may have developed special structural features in recognizing nucleosomal DNA. Overall, our method presents a new framework to functionally characterize NDFs and further our understanding of the molecular mechanism of nucleosome invasion.


Event Type





biophysics, biophysics_colloquium, lassp

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Jonathan Fuller

Contact Phone



Lu Bai

Speaker Affiliation

Penn State University

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