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Cell. 2002 Feb 22;108(4):489-500.

Epigenetic codes for heterochromatin formation and silencing: rounding up the usual suspects.

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Department of Biology, Washington University, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.


Recent results from diverse organisms point to a self-reinforcing network of interactions among the three best-characterized covalent modifications that mark heterochromatin: histone hypoacetylation, histone H3-Lys9 methylation, and cytosine methylation. These modification systems suggest a mechanistic basis for spreading of heterochromatin over large domains and for stable epigenetic inheritance of the silent state. All three modifications used in packaging heterochromatin are also used in stable silencing of euchromatic genes.

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