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Nat Rev Genet. 2002 Sep;3(9):662-73.

Chromatin modification and epigenetic reprogramming in mammalian development.

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  • Cardiovascular Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 149 13th Street, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA. en@cvrc.mgh.harvard.edu


The developmental programme of embryogenesis is controlled by both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. An emerging theme from recent studies is that the regulation of higher-order chromatin structures by DNA methylation and histone modification is crucial for genome reprogramming during early embryogenesis and gametogenesis, and for tissue-specific gene expression and global gene silencing. Disruptions to chromatin modification can lead to the dysregulation of developmental processes, such as X-chromosome inactivation and genomic imprinting, and to various diseases. Understanding the process of epigenetic reprogramming in development is important for studies of cloning and the clinical application of stem-cell therapy.

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