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Nat Immunol. 2003 Jul;4(7):607-15.

The establishment and maintenance of lymphocyte identity through gene silencing.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1662, USA.


Cell identity is determined by selective gene activation and by the maintenance of other regulated genes in a silent state. Although activation mechanisms have been dissected in considerable depth, great strides towards an understanding of the molecular control of gene silencing have been made only recently. Molecular hallmarks of silent chromatin and proteins involved in its assembly and maintenance have been identified through genetic, cytological and biochemical studies in a variety of organisms. Immunologists are now beginning to use this knowledge to elucidate mechanisms underlying cell fate decisions and key developmental steps. This review surveys the current knowledge of gene silencing, with an emphasis on studies in lymphocytes that are advancing our general understanding of silencing mechanisms during development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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