Epigenetic codes for heterochromatin formation and silencing: rounding up the usual suspects

Cell. 2002 Feb 22;108(4):489-500. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(02)00644-x.


Recent results from diverse organisms point to a self-reinforcing network of interactions among the three best-characterized covalent modifications that mark heterochromatin: histone hypoacetylation, histone H3-Lys9 methylation, and cytosine methylation. These modification systems suggest a mechanistic basis for spreading of heterochromatin over large domains and for stable epigenetic inheritance of the silent state. All three modifications used in packaging heterochromatin are also used in stable silencing of euchromatic genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Silencing / physiology*
  • Heterochromatin / genetics
  • Heterochromatin / metabolism*
  • Histones / chemistry
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Methylation
  • Molecular Sequence Data


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Heterochromatin
  • Histones
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • heterochromatin-specific nonhistone chromosomal protein HP-1