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Plant Mol Biol. 2000 Jun;43(2-3):221-34.

Transcriptional transgene silencing and chromatin components.

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Centre for Plant Science, Leeds Institute for Plant Biotechnology and Agriculture, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, UK.


Contrary to simplistic views that have long prevailed in genetics textbooks, gene transcription in higher organisms cannot be fully understood by analysing binding of transcription factors to DNA target sites within the promoter regions, just as it would be inappropriate to picture the genetic information within a nucleus as a simple string of DNA. Instead, DNA is embedded in a highly complex chromatin structure that controls the location and accessibility of individual genetic regions in a way we are still far from understanding in detail. What has become obvious, mainly due to ground-breaking research in yeast and animal systems, is that the packaging of certain genes into a chromosomal matrix is regulated via sophisticated chromatin remodelling mechanisms that define whether and when a gene becomes accessible to the transcription machinery. In plants, especially the analysis of transgenes and transposable elements has reminded us of the presence of epigenetic control mechanisms, which can affect the reliable expression of transgenes. There is increasing evidence that chromatin components play an important part in plant epigenetics. The purpose of this review is to describe the main general principles of chromatin remodelling as they have been elucidated in non-plant systems and to discuss their relevance for the control of gene expression in plants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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