We investigate how DNA sequence, ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling and nucleosome-depleted 'barriers' co-operate to determine the kinetics of nucleosome organization, in a stochastic model of nucleosome positioning and dynamics. We find that 'statistical' positioning of nucleosomes against 'barriers', hypothesized to control chromatin structure near transcription start sites, requires active remodeling and therefore cannot be described using equilibrium statistical mechanics. We show that, unlike steady-state occupancy, DNA site exposure kinetics near a barrier is dominated by DNA sequence rather than by proximity to the barrier itself. The timescale for formation of positioning patterns near barriers is proportional to the timescale for active nucleosome eviction. We also show that there are strong gene-to-gene variations in nucleosome positioning near barriers, which are eliminated by averaging over many genes. Our results suggest that measurement of nucleosome kinetics can reveal information about sequence-dependent regulation that is not apparent in steady-state nucleosome occupancy.
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