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EMBO Rep. 2006 Jun;7(6):628-34. Epub 2006 Apr 28.

Histone modification patterns associated with the human X chromosome.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, NCMLS M850/3.79, Radboud University, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


X inactivation is associated with chromosome-wide establishment of inactive chromatin. Although this is classically regarded as facultative heterochromatin that is uniform in nature, the exact distribution of associated epigenetic marks is not well defined. Here we have analysed histone modifications in human somatic cells within two selected regions of the X chromosome. Intergenic, coding and promoter regions are segregated into differentially marked chromatin. H3K27me3 is most prominent in intergenic and silenced coding regions, but is associated with some active coding regions as well. Histone H3/H4 acetylation and H3K4me3 are locally enriched at promoter regions but do not necessarily mark continuing transcription. Remarkably, H3K9me3 is predominant in coding regions of active genes, a phenomenon that is not restricted to the X chromosome. These results argue against the exclusiveness of individual marks to heterochromatin or euchromatin, but rather suggest that composite patterns of interdependent or mutually exclusive modifications together signal the gene expression status.

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