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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2012 Apr;22(2):156-63. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2011.12.004. Epub 2012 Jan 11.

Different means, same end-heterochromatin formation by RNAi and RNAi-independent RNA processing factors in fission yeast.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The assembly of heterochromatin in eukaryotic genomes is critical for diverse chromosomal events including regulation of gene expression, silencing of repetitive DNA elements, proper segregation of chromosomes and maintenance of genomic integrity. Previous studies have shown that noncoding RNAs and the RNA interference (RNAi) machinery promote the assembly of heterochromatin that serves as a multipurpose platform for targeting effectors involved in various chromosomal processes. Recent work has revealed that RNAi-independent mechanisms, involving RNA processing activities that utilize both noncoding and coding RNAs, operate in the assembly of heterochromatin. These findings have established that, in addition to coding for proteins, mRNAs also function as signaling molecules that modify chromatin structure by targeting heterochromatin assembly factors.

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