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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2005 May 20;44(21):3186-216.

Epigenetics--an epicenter of gene regulation: histones and histone-modifying enzymes.

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  • 1University of Leipzig, Institute of Organic Chemistry, Johannisallee 29, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


The treatment of cancer through the development of new therapies is one of the most important challenges of our time. The decoding of the human genome has yielded important insights into the molecular basis of physical disorders, and in most cases a connection between failures in specific genes and the resulting clinical symptoms can be made. The modulation of epigenetic mechanisms enables, by definition, the alteration of cellular phenotype without altering the genotype. The information content of a single gene can be crucial or harmful, but the prerequisite for a cellular effect is active gene transcription. To this end, epigenetic mechanisms play a very important role, and the transcription of a given gene is directly influenced by the modification pattern of the surrounding histone proteins as well as the methylation pattern of the DNA. These processes are effected by different enzymes which can be directly influenced through the development of specific modulators. Of course, all genetic information is written as a four-character code in DNA. However, epigenetics describes the art of reading between the lines.

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