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Mol Cell. 2000 Feb;5(2):377-86.

Intergenic transcription and developmental remodeling of chromatin subdomains in the human beta-globin locus.

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Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Gene activation requires chromatin remodeling complexes, which hyperacetylate histones and enable factor access; however, the targeting mechanisms leading to the establishment and maintenance of large, hyperacetylated DNase-sensitive chromatin domains are unknown. Recent work has shown that histone acetyltransferases are associated with RNA-pol II complexes, suggesting that transcription of chromatin plays a role in chromatin modification. Here we show the human beta-globin locus is divided into three differentially activated chromatin subdomains. Large transcripts precisely delineate the active domains at key cell cycle points associated with chromatin transitions and remodeling. We identify an element that initiates these transcripts, located in a region required for chromatin activation. The results suggest that intergenic transcription is required for chromatin remodeling of chromosomal domains.

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