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Dev Genet. 1994;15(6):463-70.

Inheritance of chromatin states.

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Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The packaging of regulatory DNA within the eukaryotic chromosome has considerable potential not only for modulating the transcriptional activity of genes, but also for propagating states that are permissive or restrictive for transcription. Sequence-specific transcription factors, histones and their modifications, chromodomain proteins and enzymes that modify histones, DNA methylation and proteins that recognize methylated DNA could all play independent or interrelated roles in regulating gene activity. They all also have the potential of propagating their interactions with nascent DNA following replication. However, observations on the phenomenon of X chromosome inactivation suggest that the formation and stability of specific histone-DNA interactions through replication may be central to the inheritance of chromatin states, and that other molecular mechanisms have supporting roles. The future offers the exciting prospect of reconstructing the propagation of stable active or repressed chromatin states in vitro, and consequently understanding the events occurring at the replication fork in molecular detail.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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