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Biochem Cell Biol. 2001;79(3):275-87.

Phosphorylation of histone variant regions in chromatin: unlocking the linker?

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Biology Department, Loyola University New Orleans, LA 70118, USA.


Histone variants illuminate the behavior of chromatin through their unique structures and patterns of postsynthetic modification. This review examines the literature on heteromorphous histone structures in chromatin, structures that are primary targets for histone kinases and phosphatases in vivo. Special attention is paid to certain well-studied experimental systems: mammalian culture cells, chicken erythrocytes, sea urchin sperm, wheat sprouts, Tetrahymena, and budding yeast. A common theme emerges from these studies. Specialized, highly basic structures in histone variants promote chromatin condensation in a variety of developmental situations. Before, and sometimes after condensed chromatin is formed, the chromatin is rendered soluble by phosphorylation of the heteromorphous regions, preventing their interaction with linker DNA. A simple structural model accounting for histone variation and phosphorylation is presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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