The conserved histone variant H2AZ has an important role in the regulation of gene expression and the establishment of a buffer to the spread of silent heterochromatin. How histone variants such as H2AZ are incorporated into nucleosomes has been obscure. We have found that Swr1, a Swi2/Snf2-related adenosine triphosphatase, is the catalytic core of a multisubunit, histone-variant exchanger that efficiently replaces conventional histone H2A with histone H2AZ in nucleosome arrays. Swr1 is required for the deposition of histone H2AZ at specific chromosome locations in vivo, and Swr1 and H2AZ commonly regulate a subset of yeast genes. These findings define a previously unknown role for the adenosine triphosphate-dependent chromatin remodeling machinery.
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