Chromatin and DNA replication.
by David MacAlpine and Geneviève Almouzni
The size of a eukaryotic genome presents a unique challenge to the cell: package and organize the DNA to fit within the confines of the nucleus while at the same time ensuring sufficient dynamics to allow access to specific sequences and features such as genes and regulatory elements. This is achieved via the dynamic nucleoprotein organization of eukaryotic DNA into chromatin. The basic unit of chromatin, the nucleosome, comprises a core particle with 147 bp of DNA wrapped 1.7 times around an octamer of histones. The nucleosome is a highly versatile and modular structure, both in its composition, with the existence of various histone variants, and through the addition of a series of posttranslational modifications on the histones. This versatility allows for both short-term regulatory responses to external signaling, as well as the long-term and multigenerational definition of large functional chromosomal domains within the nucleus, such as the centromere. Chromatin organization and its dynamics participate in essentially all DNA-templated processes, including transcription, replication, recombination, and repair. Here we will focus mainly on nucleosomal organization and describe the pathways and mechanisms that contribute to assembly of this organization and the role of chromatin in regulating the DNA replication program.