Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Program in Molecular Medicine

First Thesis Advisor

Craig L. Peterson, Ph.D.


Recombination, Genetic, Gene Expression Regulation, Chromatin, Transcription Factors, Adenosine Triphosphate, Fungal Proteins, Enzymes


The inherently repressive nature of chromatin presents a sizeable barrier for all nuclear processes in which access to DNA is required. Therefore, eukaryotic organisms ranging from yeast to humans rely on a battery of enzymes that disrupt the chromatin structure as a means of regulating DNA transactions.

These enzymes can be divided into two broad classes: those that covalently modify histone proteins, and those that actively disrupt nucleosomal structure using the free energy derived from ATP hydrolysis. The latter group, huge, multisubunit ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling factors, are emerging as a common theme in all nuclear processes in which access to DNA is essential. Although transcription is the process for which a requirement for chromatin remodeling is best documented, it is now becoming clear that other processes like replication, recombination and DNA repair rely on it as well.

A growing number of ATP-dependent remodeling machines has been uncovered in the last 10 years. Although they differ in their subunit composition, organism or tissue restriction, substrate specificity, and regulating/recruiting partners, it has become increasingly evident that all ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling factors share a similar underlying mechanism.

This mechanism is the subject of the studies presented in this thesis. Chromatin-remodeling factors seem to bind both the histone and DNA components of nucleosomes. From a fixed position on nucleosomes, the remodeling factors appear to translocate on the DNA, generating torsional stress on the double helix. This activity has several consequences, including the distortion of the DNA structure on the surface of the histone octamer, the disruption of histone-DNA interactions, and the mobilization of the nucleosome core with respect to the DNA.

The work presented in this thesis, along with data reported by other groups, supports the hypothesis that yeast SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex and the recombinational repair factor, Rad54p, both employ similar mechanisms to regulate gene transcription, and facilitate homologous DNA pairing and recombination, respectively.



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