, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 17-25
Date: 14 Jan 2011

Interaction of SET domains with histones and nucleic acid structures in active chromatin

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Abstract

Changes in the normal program of gene expression are the basis for a number of human diseases. Epigenetic control of gene expression is programmed by chromatin modifications—the inheritable “histone code”—the major component of which is histone methylation. This chromatin methylation code of gene activity is created upon cell differentiation and is further controlled by the “SET” (methyltransferase) domain proteins which maintain this histone methylation pattern and preserve it through rounds of cell division. The molecular principles of epigenetic gene maintenance are essential for proper treatment and prevention of disorders and their complications. However, the principles of epigenetic gene programming are not resolved. Here we discuss some evidence of how the SET proteins determine the required states of target genes and maintain the required levels of their activity. We suggest that, along with other recognition pathways, SET domains can directly recognize the nucleosome and nucleic acids intermediates that are specific for active chromatin regions.