Accessibility of DNA in condensed chromatin to nuclease digestion

Abstract

RECENT evidence indicates that a large portion of the DNA of higher organisms is organised in compact nucleoprotein structures. Initial studies on nuclease digestion of chroma-tin showed that about half the nuclear DNA is present in the form of small resistant chromatin fragments1–3. Subsequent studies have shown that the sites of nuclease digestion are regularly spaced, and that, at the limit of digestion, the majority of the DNA that remains is in the form of relatively homogeneous small fragments, which vary from about 120 to 200 nucleotide pairs in length4–7. This concept of small repeating resistant structures in chromatin is further supported by electron microscope studies on chromatin fibres spread from hypotonically treated nuclei8 and from isolated chromatin9.

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