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Selective gene regulation by SWI/SNF-related chromatin remodeling factors.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Center for Biomedical Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center, P.O. Box 9503, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.


Chromatin is a highly dynamic structure that plays a key role in the orchestration of gene expression patterns during cellular differentiation and development. The packaging of DNA into chromatin generates a barrier to the transcription machinery. The two main strategies by which cells alleviate chromatin-mediated repression are through the action of ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes and enzymes that covalently modify the histones. Various signaling pathways impinge upon the targeting and activity of these enzymes, thereby controlling gene expression in response to physiological and developmental cues. Chromatin structure also underlies many so-called epigenetic phenomena, leading to the mitotically stable propagation of differential expression of genetic information. Here, we will focus on the role of SWI/SNF-related ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes in developmental gene regulation. First, we compare different models for how remodelers can act in a gene-selective manner, and either cooperate or antagonize other chromatin-modulating systems in the cell. Next, we discuss their functioning during the control of developmental gene expression programs.

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