Local differences in chromatin organisation may profoundly affect the activity of eukaryotic genomes. Regulation at the level of DNA packaging requires the targeting of structural proteins and histone-modifying enzymes to specific sites and their stable or dynamic interaction with the nucleosomal fiber. The "chromodomain", a domain shared by many regulators of chromatin structure, has long been suspected to serve as a module mediating chromatin interactions in a variety of different protein contexts. However, recent functional analyses of a number of different chromodomains revealed an unexpected diversity of interaction targets, including histones, DNA and even RNA. The chromodomains of today seem to have evolved from a common ancestral fold to fulfill various functions in different molecular contexts. Combining information gained from recent functional and structural studies of chromodomains with a bioinformatic classification of their structure could lead to the definition of sequence motifs with predictive quality for chromodomain function.
Copyright 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.