Sharp increase in macromolecular crowding induces abnormal chromatin compaction in the cell nucleus, suggesting its non-negligible impact on chromatin structure and function. However, the details of the crowding-induced chromatin compaction remain poorly understood. In this work, we present a computer simulation study on the entropic effect of macromolecular crowding on the interaction between chromatin structural units called nucleosome clutches. Nucleosome clutches were modeled by a chain of nucleosomes collapsed by harmonic restraints implicitly mimicking the nucleosome association mediated by histone tails and linker histones. The nucleosome density of the clutches was set close to either that of high-density heterochromatin or that of low-density euchromatin. The effective interactions between these nucleosome clutches were calculated in various crowding conditions, and it was found that the increase in the degree of macromolecular crowding induced attractive interaction between two clutches with high nucleosome density. Interestingly, the increased degree of macromolecular crowding did not induce any attraction between two clutches with low nucleosome density. Our results suggest that the entropic effect of macromolecular crowding can enhance binding between nucleosome clutches in heterochromatin, but not in euchromatin, as a result of the difference in nucleosome packing degrees.
|State||Published - 1 Dec 2018|