DNAase I, DNAase II and staphylococcal nuclease cut at different, yet symmetrically located, sites in the nucleosome core

Barbara Sollner-Webb, William Melchior, Gary Felsenfeld

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71 Scopus citations


We have determined the relative location of pancreatic DNAase (DNAase I), spleen acid DNAase (DNAase II) and staphylococcal nuclease cleavage sites in the nucleosome core. Each of these three enzymes cleaves the DNA of chromatin at 10. n nucleotide intervals (n integer); this specificity presumably reflects the internal structure of the nucleosome. We have already reported that DNAase I cleaves nucleosomal DNA so that nearest adjacent cuts on opposite strands are staggered by 2 nucleotides, 3′ end extending (Sollner-Webb and Felsenfeld, 1977). Here we show that the nearest cuts made by DNAase II in nucleosomal DNA are staggered by 4 nucleotides, 3′ end extending, while cuts made by staphylococcal nuclease have a stagger of 2 nucleotides, 5′ end extending. The cutting sites of the three enzymes thus do not coincide. Each pair of staggered cuts, however, is symmetrically located about a common axis-that is, the "dyad axes" that bisect nearest pairs of cutting sites coincide for all three enzymes. This result is consistent with the presence of a true dyad axis in the nucleosome core. Our results support the conclusion that a structural feature of the nucleosome, having a 10 nucleotide periodicity, is the common recognition site for all three nucleases. The position of the cut is determined, however, by the individual characteristics of each enzyme. Sites potentially available to nuclease cleavage span a region of 4 nucleotides out of this 10 nucleotide repeat, and a large fraction of these sites are actually cut. Thus much of the nucleosomal DNA must in some sense be accessible to the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-627
Number of pages17
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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