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SET domain proteins modulate chromatin domains in eu- and heterochromatin

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The SET domain is a 130-amino acid, evolutionarily conserved sequence motif present in chromosomal proteins that function in modulating gene activities from yeast to mammals. Initially identified as members of the Polycomb- and trithorax-group (Pc-G and trx-G) gene families, which are required to maintain expression boundaries of homeotic selector (HOM-C) genes, SET domain proteins are also involved in position-effect-variegation (PEV), telomeric and centromeric gene silencing, and possibly in determining chromosome architecture. These observations implicate SET domain proteins as multifunctional chromatin regulators with activities in both eu- and heterochromatin – a role consistent with their modular structure, which combines the SET domain with additional sequence motifs of either a cysteine-rich region/zinc-finger type or the chromo domain. Multiple functions for chromatin regulators are not restricted to the SET protein family, since many trx-G (but only very few Pc-G) genes are also modifiers of PEV. Together, these data establish a model in which the modulation of chromatin domains is mechanistically linked with the regulation of key developmental loci (e.g. HOM-C).

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Jenuwein, T., Laible, G., Dorn, R. et al. SET domain proteins modulate chromatin domains in eu- and heterochromatin. CMLS, Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 54, 80–93 (1998).

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