Old cogs, new tricks: the evolution of gene expression in a chromatin context

Paul B. Talbert, Michael P. Meers, Steven Henikoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sophisticated gene-regulatory mechanisms probably evolved in prokaryotes billions of years before the emergence of modern eukaryotes, which inherited the same basic enzymatic machineries. However, the epigenomic landscapes of eukaryotes are dominated by nucleosomes, which have acquired roles in genome packaging, mitotic condensation and silencing parasitic genomic elements. Although the molecular mechanisms by which nucleosomes are displaced and modified have been described, just how transcription factors, histone variants and modifications and chromatin regulators act on nucleosomes to regulate transcription is the subject of considerable ongoing study. We explore the extent to which these transcriptional regulatory components function in the context of the evolutionarily ancient role of chromatin as a barrier to processes acting on DNA and how chromatin proteins have diversified to carry out evolutionarily recent functions that accompanied the emergence of differentiation and development in multicellular eukaryotes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalNature Reviews Genetics
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2019

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