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Mol Biotechnol. 2001 Jan;17(1):1-13.

Modifications of the histone N-terminal domains. Evidence for an "epigenetic code"?

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Münich, Schillerstr. 44 80336 Münich, Germany.


A multicellular organism is made up of a variety of different cell types and tissues. This organization is accomplished by a well-concerted action of different regulatory molecules, which--in a very hierarchical manner--influence the expression of certain cell-specific genes. Many of those regulators are transcription factors, which directly influence the expression of the controlled gene by binding to a specific DNA sequence within its promoter or enhancer region. This binding then leads to an enhancement or a decrease in the rate of transcription of that particular gene and eventually regulates the production of the corresponding polypeptide. One major obstacle to the binding of these transcription factors is the fact that DNA is not readily accessible in the eukaryotic nucleus. It is associated with a class of very basic proteins called histones. This complex of histones and DNA is called chromatin.

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