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Cell. 2003 Mar 7;112(5):599-606.

Polycomb, epigenomes, and control of cell identity.

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Dulbecco Telethon Institute, Institute of Genetics & Biophysics CNR, Via Pietro Castellino 111, 80131, Naples, Italy.


In development, cell identity is maintained by epigenetic functions that prevent changes in cell type-specific transcription programs. Recent insights into gene silencing mechanisms by Polycomb group (PcG) and trithorax group (trxG) proteins reveal that the memory system involves a concerted process of chromatin modification, blocking of RNA polymerase II, and synthesis of noncoding RNA. Remarkably, cell memory is regulated by a balance between repressors and activators that maintains both transcription status and at the same time the possibility of switching to a different state.

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