Histone H2B ubiquitylation disrupts local and higher-order chromatin compaction

Beat Fierz, Champak Chatterjee, Robert K. McGinty, Maya Bar-Dagan, Daniel P. Raleigh, Tom W. Muir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

358 Scopus citations


Regulation of chromatin structure involves histone posttranslational modifications that can modulate intrinsic properties of the chromatin fiber to change the chromatin state. We used chemically defined nucleosome arrays to demonstrate that H2B ubiquitylation (uH2B), a modification associated with transcription, interferes with chromatin compaction and leads to an open and biochemically accessible fiber conformation. Notably, these effects were specific for ubiquitin, as compaction of chromatin modified with a similar ubiquitin-sized protein, Hub1, was only weakly affected. Applying a fluorescence-based method, we found that uH2B acts through a mechanism distinct from H4 tail acetylation, a modification known to disrupt chromatin folding. Finally, incorporation of both uH2B and acetylated H4 resulted in synergistic inhibition of higher-order chromatin structure formation, possibly a result of their distinct modes of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalNature Chemical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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