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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Sep;71(18):3439-63. doi: 10.1007/s00018-014-1605-4. Epub 2014 Mar 28.

Chromatin dynamics: H3K4 methylation and H3 variant replacement during development and in cancer.

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Epigenetics and Cancer Research Laboratory, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Group, Department of Life Science, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, Odisha, 769008, India.


The dynamic nature of chromatin and its myriad modifications play a crucial role in gene regulation (expression and repression) during development, cellular survival, homeostasis, ageing, and apoptosis/death. Histone 3 lysine 4 methylation (H3K4 methylation) catalyzed by H3K4 specific histone methyltransferases is one of the more critical chromatin modifications that is generally associated with gene activation. Additionally, the deposition of H3 variant(s) in conjunction with H3K4 methylation generates an intricately reliable epigenetic regulatory circuit that guides transcriptional activity in normal development and homeostasis. Consequently, alterations in this epigenetic circuit may trigger disease development. The mechanistic relationship between H3 variant deposition and H3K4 methylation during normal development has remained foggy. However, recent investigations in the field of chromatin dynamics in various model organisms, tumors, cancer tissues, and cell lines cultured without and with therapeutic agents, as well as from model reconstituted chromatins reveal that there may be different subsets of chromatin assemblage with specific patterns of histone replacement executing similar functions. In this light, we attempt to explain the intricate control system that maintains chromatin structure and dynamics during normal development as well as during tumor development and cancer progression in this review. Our focus is to highlight the contribution of H3K4 methylation-histone variant crosstalk in regulating chromatin architecture and subsequently its function.

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