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Nature. 2004 Sep 16;431(7006):364-70.

The role of RNA interference in heterochromatic silencing.

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  • 1Watson School of Biological Sciences and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1 Bungtown Road, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724 USA.


Soon after its discovery 75 years ago, heterochromatin, a dense chromosomal material, was found to silence genes. But its importance in regulating gene expression was controversial. Long thought to be inert, heterochromatin is now known to give rise to small RNAs, which, by means of RNA interference, direct the modification of proteins and DNA in heterochromatic repeats and transposable elements. Heterochromatin has thus emerged as a key factor in epigenetic regulation of gene expression, chromosome behaviour and evolution.

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