Handpicking epigenetic marks with PHD fingers

Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Nov;39(21):9061-71. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr613. Epub 2011 Aug 3.


Plant homeodomain (PHD) fingers have emerged as one of the largest families of epigenetic effectors capable of recognizing or 'reading' post-translational histone modifications and unmodified histone tails. These interactions are highly specific and can be modulated by the neighboring epigenetic marks and adjacent effectors. A few PHD fingers have recently been found to also associate with non-histone proteins. In this review, we detail the molecular mechanisms and biological outcomes of the histone and non-histone targeting by PHD fingers. We discuss the significance of crosstalk between the histone modifications and consequences of combinatorial readout for selective recruitment of the PHD finger-containing components of chromatin remodeling and transcriptional complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histones / chemistry*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / chemistry
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Histones
  • Homeodomain Proteins