MENT is a developmentally regulated heterochromatin-associated protein that condenses chromatin in terminally differentiated avian blood cells. Its homology to the serpin protein family suggests that the conserved serpin reactive center loop (RCL) and the unique M-loop are important for its function. To examine the role of these domains, we studied the interaction of wild-type and mutant MENT with naked DNA and biochemically defined nucleosome arrays reconstituted from 12-mer repeats containing nucleosome positioning sequences. Wild-type MENT folded the naked DNA duplexes into closely juxtaposed parallel structures (“tramlines”). Deletion of the M-loop, but not inactivation of the RCL, prevented tramline formation and the cooperative interaction of MENT with DNA. Reconstitution of wildtyp
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