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Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2015 Oct;28:131-40. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2015.07.005. Epub 2015 Aug 6.

Synthetic histone code.

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Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, 37077 Göttingen, Germany. Electronic address:
Institute of Biochemistry, University of Muenster, 48149 Muenster, Germany. Electronic address:
Interfaculty Institute of Biochemistry, University of Tübingen, 72076 Tübingen, Germany. Electronic address:


Chromatin is the universal template of genetic information in all eukaryotic cells. This complex of DNA and histone proteins not only packages and organizes genomes but also regulates gene expression. A multitude of posttranslational histone modifications and their combinations are thought to constitute a code for directing distinct structural and functional states of chromatin. Methods of protein chemistry, including protein semisynthesis, amber suppression technology, and cysteine bioconjugation, have enabled the generation of so-called designer chromatin containing histones in defined and homogeneous modification states. Several of these approaches have matured from proof-of-concept studies into efficient tools and technologies for studying the biochemistry of chromatin regulation and for interrogating the histone code. We summarize pioneering experiments and recent developments in this exciting field of chemical biology.

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