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Biochem Cell Biol. 2005 Aug;83(4):505-15.

H2AX: tailoring histone H2A for chromatin-dependent genomic integrity.

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Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Victoria, BC, Canada.


During the last decade, chromatin research has been focusing on the role of histone variability as a modulator of chromatin structure and function. Histone variability can be the result of either post-translational modifications or intrinsic variation at the primary structure level: histone variants. In this review, we center our attention on one of the most extensively characterized of such histone variants in recent years, histone H2AX. The molecular phylogeny of this variant seems to have run in parallel with that of the major canonical somatic H2A1 in eukaryotes. Functionally, H2AX appears to be mainly associated with maintaining the genome integrity by participating in the repair of the double-stranded DNA breaks exogenously introduced by environmental damage (ionizing radiation, chemicals) or in the process of homologous recombination during meiosis. At the structural level, these processes involve the phosphorylation of serine at the SQE motif, which is present at the very end of the C-terminal domain of H2AX, and possibly other PTMs, some of which have recently started to be defined. We discuss a model to account for how these H2AX PTMs in conjunction with chromatin remodeling complexes (such as INO80 and SWRI) can modify chromatin structure (remodeling) to support the DNA unraveling ultimately required for DNA repair.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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