Chromatin dynamics and locus accessibility in the immune system

Nat Immunol. 2003 Jul;4(7):603-6. doi: 10.1038/ni0703-603.


Development in vertebrates follows distinctive pathways of cellular differentiation. Starting from the zygote, newly formed cells continually differentiate until they reach a final mature fate. Whether differentiating into a neuron, a hepatocyte or a myofibril, every normal cell, with the exception of developing lymphocytes, carries the same genetic information enclosed within its nucleus. To acquire distinct cellular identities, cells need to control gene expression in a very regulated way. Genes encoding factors required for identity at a particular developmental stage need to be appropriately activated, whereas genes required for identity during the previous developmental stage are often silenced. Moreover, once a cell becomes terminally differentiated, 'heritable' gene expression must be maintained in all daughter cells and, thus, faithfully recapitulated after each cellular division.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Chromatin / physiology*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Rearrangement
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin