In eukaryotes, histone variant distribution within the genome is the key epigenetic feature. To understand how each histone variant is targeted to the genome, we developed a new method, the RhIP (Reconstituted histone complex Incorporation into chromatin of Permeabilized cell) assay, in which epitope-tagged histone complexes are introduced into permeabilized cells and incorporated into their chromatin. Using this method, we found that H3.1 and H3.3 were incorporated into chromatin in replication-dependent and-independent manners, respectively. We further found that the incorporation of histones H2A and H2A.Z mainly occurred at less condensed chromatin (open), suggesting that condensed chromatin (closed) is a barrier for histone incorporation. To overcome this barrier, H2A, but not H2A.Z, uses a replication-coupled deposition mechanism. Our study revealed that the combination of chromatin structure and DNA replication dictates the differential histone deposition to maintain the epigenetic chromatin states.
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