Adriana Magalska, Anna Katharina Schellhaus, Daniel Moreno-Andrés, Fabio Zanini, Allana Schooley, Ruchika Sachdev, Heinz Schwarz, Johannes Madlung and Wolfram Antonin (2014)
Developmental Cell 31, 305-318.
Chromatin undergoes extensive structural changes during the cell cycle. Upon mitotic entry, metazoan chromatin undergoes tremendous condensation, creating mitotic chromosomes with 50-fold greater compaction relative to interphase chromosomes. At the end of mitosis, chromosomes reestablish functional interphase chromatin competent for replication and transcription through a decondensation process that is cytologically well described. However, the underlying molecular events and factors remain unidentified. We describe a cell-free system that recapitulates chromatin decondensation based on purified mitotic chromatin and Xenopus egg extracts. Using biochemical fractionation, we identify RuvB-like ATPases as chromatin decondensation factors and demonstrate that their ATPase activity is essential for decondensation. Our results show that decompaction of metaphase chromosomes is not merely an inactivation of known chromatin condensation factors but rather an active process requiring specific molecular machinery. Our cell-free system provides an important tool for further molecular characterization of chromatin decondensation and its coordination with concomitant processes.