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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Apr;1014:110-20.

REST and peace for the neuronal-specific transcriptional program.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Medicine, and University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla California 92093-0648, USA.


Despite a genetic homogeneity, cells in multicellular organisms are structurally and functionally heterogeneous. The diversity of cell phenotypes exists due to differential transcriptional programs precisely regulated by specific nuclear factors and induced upon differentiation. The differences in gene expression programs arise during development and become heritable during cell proliferation. Over the last few years, research has focused on three molecular mechanisms that mediate epigenetic phenomena: DNA methylation, histone modification, and formation of specialized nuclear domains or territories. All of these processes are dynamic and tightly linked to the organism's development. Here we review advances in understanding the significance of epigenetic mechanisms in the establishment and maintenance of the specialized transcriptional program. We project the accumulated knowledge onto the delineation of the molecular mechanisms by which central nervous system-specific genes are expressed in the nervous system and repressed in other tissues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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