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"Histone Code", Key Properties of Silent versus Active DNA

 
  August, 21 2001 5:27
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"Histone Code" Joins Genetic Code as Critical Determinant of Chromosomal Inheritance: Study Reveals Key Properties of Silent versus Active DNA

Until recently, proteins called "histones" have been the Rodney Dangerfields ("I don't get no respect!") of the biochemical world. Histones bind to DNA and wrap the genetic material into "beads on a string" in which DNA (the string) is wrapped around small blobs of histones (the beads) at regular intervals. In the past, many researchers believed that histones played a passive role in chromosome architecture and little role in specifically switching genes on and off. Now, scientists who remained true to histone research are basking in the glow of renewed respect for the dynamic role that these proteins are being found to play in the inheritance of specialized chromosome structures and the control of gene activity.
Moreover, evidence suggests that defects in the establishment of proper chromosome structure by histones may activate or silence genes aberrantly and thus lead to disease.


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