Our cells are able to accomplish the amazing feat of packing a 2 meter length of DNA into a relatively tiny compartment -- the nucleus (on average, only 6μm in diameter) -- thanks in large part to the action of histones. This tight packing, however, makes it nearly impossible for proteins such as polymerases and transcriptional regulators to access the DNA. In order to dynamically regulate the placement of histones, cells utilize a class of proteins known as chromatin remodelers. Some remodelers are enzymes that use the energy from ATP hydrolysis in order to actively move DNA around histones, allowing access to DNA that was previously blocked.
The goal of this project, currently a work-in-progress, is to create a series of animations that describe the mechanism of ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers, such as SWI/SNF and ISWI. This project is a collaboration with Brad Cairns and Cedric Clapier (Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah)..