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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1999 Aug 4;91(15):1288-94.

Chromatin remodeling and transcriptional regulation.

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Division of Molecular Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Extensive studies in the past few years have begun to demonstrate that chromosome structure plays a critical role in transcriptional regulation. Two highly conserved mechanisms for altering chromosome structure have been identified: 1) post-translational modification of histones and 2) adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent chromosome remodeling. Acetylation of histone lysine residues has been known for three decades to be associated with transcriptional activation. Recent discoveries, however, show that a number of transcriptional regulators are histone acetylases or histone deacetylases. Specific DNA-binding transcription factors recruit histone acetylases and deacetylases to promoters to activate or repress transcription. These results strongly support the notion that histone acetylation and deacetylation play an important role in transcriptional regulation. Recent findings have also provided insight into the molecular mechanisms by which ATP-dependent chromosome-remodeling activities participate in transcriptional regulation. Furthermore, some ATP-dependent chromosome-remodeling activities have been shown to complex with histone deacetylases. In the complexes studied to date, the ATP-dependent chromosome-remodeling activity enhances the histone deacetylase activity. Therefore, the two mechanisms appear to work in concert to achieve precise control of transcription. Disruption of chromosome remodeling has been linked to a number of diseases, and a complete understanding of the complex chromosome-remodeling machinery may lead to the development of new therapies.

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