Keeping fingers crossed: Heterochromatin spreading through interdigitation of nucleosome arrays

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Interphase eukaryotic nuclei contain diffuse euchromatin and condensed heterochromatin. Current textbook models suggest that chromatin condensation occurs via accordion-type compaction of nucleosome zigzag chains. Recent studies have revealed several structural aspects that distinguish the highly compact state of condensed heterochromatin. These include an extensive lateral self-association of chromatin fibers, prominent nucleosome linker 'stems', and special protein factors that promote chromatin self-association. Here I review the molecular and structural determinants of chromatin compaction and discuss how heterochromatin spreading may be mediated by lateral self-association of zigzag nucleosome arrays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-8
Number of pages5
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 23 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology

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