Sequence signatures of nucleosome positioning in caenorhabditis elegans

Kaifu Chen, Lei Wang, Meng Yang, Jiucheng Liu, Chengqi Xin, Songnian Hu, Jun Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Our recent investigation in the protist Trichomonas vaginalis suggested a DNA sequence periodicity with a unit length of 120.9 nt, which represents a sequence signature for nucleosome positioning. We now extended our observation in higher eukaryotes and identified a similar periodicity of 175 nt in length in Caenorhabditis elegans. In the process of defining the sequence compositional characteristics, we found that the 10.5-nt periodicity, the sequence signature of DNA double helix, may not be sufficient for cross-nucleosome positioning but provides essential guiding rails to facilitate positioning. We further dissected nucleosome-protected sequences and identified a strong positive purine (AG) gradient from the 5'-end to the 3'-end, and also learnt that the nucleosome-enriched regions are GC-rich as compared to the nucleosome-free sequences as purine content is positively correlated with GC content. Sequence characterization allowed us to develop a hidden Markov model (HMM) algorithm for decoding nucleosome positioning computationally, and based on a set of training data from the fifth chromosome of C. elegans, our algorithm predicted 60%-70% of the well-positioned nucleosomes, which is 15%-20% higher than random positioning. We concluded that nucleosomes are not randomly positioned on DNA sequences and yet bind to different genome regions with variable stability, well-positioned nucleosomes leave sequence signatures on DNA, and statistical positioning of nucleosomes across genome can be decoded computationally based on these sequence signatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-102
Number of pages11
JournalGenomics, Proteomics and Bioinformatics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • HMM
  • Nucleosome positioning
  • Periodicity
  • Sequence signature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Computational Mathematics


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