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O-GlcNAcylation is a newly discovered histone modification implicated in transcriptional regulation, but no structural information on the physical effect of GlcNAcylation on chromatin exists. Here, we generate synthetic, pure GlcNAcylated histones and nucleosomes and reveal that GlcNAcylation can modulate structure through direct destabilization of H2A/H2B dimers in the nucleosome, thus promoting an 'open' chromatin state. The results suggest that a plausible molecular basis for one role of histone O-GlcNAcylation in epigenetic regulation is to lower the barrier for RNA polymerase passage and hence increase transcription.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Acetylglucosamine, Animals, Chromatin, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, Chromatography, Liquid, Circular Dichroism, DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases, Dimerization, Electrophoresis, Epigenesis, Genetic, Gene Expression Regulation, Histone Code, Histones, Mass Spectrometry, N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases, Nucleosomes, Protein Processing, Post-Translational, Threonine, Xenopus laevis