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Armstrong, J.A. and Emerson, B.M. 1996. NF-E2 Disrupts Chromatin Structure at Human β-Globin Locus Control Region Hypersensitive Site 2 In Vitro. Molecular and Cellular Biology 16: 5634-5644. Full Article

The human beta-globin locus control region (LCR) is responsible for forming an active chromatin structure extending over the 100-kb locus, allowing expression of the beta-globin gene family. The LCR consists of four erythroid-cell-specific DNase I hypersensitive sites (HS1 to -4). DNase I hypersensitive sites are thought to represent nucleosome-free regions of DNA which are bound by trans-acting factors. Of the four hypersensitive sites only HS2 acts as a transcriptional enhancer. In this study, we examine the binding of an erythroid protein to its site within HS2 in chromatin in vitro. NF-E2 is a transcriptional activator consisting of two subunits, the hematopoietic cell-specific p45 and the ubiquitous DNA-binding subunit, p18. NF-E2 binds two tandem AP1-like sites in HS2 which form the core of its enhancer activity. In this study, we show that when bound to in vitro-reconstituted chromatin, NF-E2 forms a DNase I hypersensitive site at HS2 similar to the site observed in vivo. Moreover, NF-E2 binding in vitro results in a disruption of nucleosome structure which can be detected 200 bp away. Although NF-E2 can disrupt nucleosomes when added to preformed chromatin, the disruption is more pronounced when NF-E2 is added to DNA prior to chromatin assembly. Interestingly, the hematopoietic cell-specific subunit, p45, is necessary for binding to chromatin but not to naked DNA. Interaction of NF-E2 with its site in chromatin-reconstituted HS2 allows a second erythroid factor, GATA-1, to bind its nearby sites. Lastly, nucleosome disruption by NF-E2 is an ATP-dependent process, suggesting the involvement of energy-dependent nucleosome remodeling factors.

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