Maintenance of chromatin states: an open-and-shut case

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2003 Jun;15(3):266-74. doi: 10.1016/s0955-0674(03)00043-7.


The traditional view of chromatin envisions two states: one is 'active' and accessible to nucleases, whereas the other is 'silent' and relatively inaccessible. Recent evidence that combinations of diverse histone tail modifications represent a spectrum of chromatin states challenges this simple view. Here, we examine inter-relationships between chromatin remodeling, histone modification, DNA methylation, RNA interference, and nucleosome assembly activities. We find that the two-state view can accommodate these new findings, and that nucleosome assembly pathways may ultimately maintain euchromatic and heterochromatic states.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / physiology*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Histones / physiology*
  • RNA Interference*


  • Chromatin
  • Histones