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Oncogene. 2001 May 28;20(24):2988-90.

Chromatin remodeling: why it is important in cancer.

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Sangamo BioSciences Inc., Point Richmond Tech Center, 501 Canal Blvd, Suite A100, Richmond, California 94804, USA.


A typical human cell expresses only a few thousand of the more than 30 000 genes contained within our chromosomes. The chromosomal infrastructure is essential for gene control, determining both active and repressed states. It is important not only to turn the right genes on but also to turn the right genes off. Histones and chromatin components have key roles in this decision making process. Mistakes have severe consequences. If as few as three inappropriate genes are turned off, a normal cell can be converted into a cancer cell. This epigenetic silencing of genes underlies a new approach to cancer therapy. Advances in the biochemistry and genetics of chromatin remodeling reveal that gene inactivation depends on the recruitment of enzymes that control the display of DNA within the chromosome. Mistargeting of these enzymes leads to tumorigenesis, but inhibition of their activity presents a novel approach to therapy.

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