Transition between two forms of heterochromatin at plant subtelomeres
The manner of packing of the terminal DNA loci into nucleosomes and higher order structures may strongly influence their functional interactions. Besides the structural flexibility of telomeric DNA sequences, conserved features of their chromatin including short nucleosome phasing (157 bp) and nucleosome sliding have been described previously. To gain a complementary knowledge of subtelomeres, we have analysed the chromatin structure of two subtelomeric tandem repeats from the plant Silene latifolia: X43.1 and 15Ssp. X43.1 shows two distinct nucleosome periodicities - 157 and 188 bp. Preferred positions of its two nucleosomes have been mapped at both low and high resolution and the experimental results correspond to computer-predicted positions. 15Ssp is a newly-discovered sequence showing a telomere-associated position by PCR and a subtelomeric location by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and fluorescence in situ hybridisation. Its 159 bp sequence unit shows a tandem arrangement and the presence of micrococcal nuclease-hypersensitive sites when either naked DNA or chromatin is digested. Use of a chemical nuclease results in a regular nucleosome ladder of 157 bp periodicity. Moreover, 15Ssp mononucleosomes show instability and absence of specific positioning, features typical for telomeric chromatin.