Regulating the chromatin landscape: structural and mechanistic perspectives

Annu Rev Biochem. 2014;83:671-96. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-051810-093157. Epub 2014 Mar 5.


A large family of chromatin remodelers that noncovalently modify chromatin is crucial in cell development and differentiation. They are often the targets of cancer, neurological disorders, and other human diseases. These complexes alter nucleosome positioning, higher-order chromatin structure, and nuclear organization. They also assemble chromatin, exchange out histone variants, and disassemble chromatin at defined locations. We review aspects of the structural organization of these complexes, the functional properties of their protein domains, and variation between complexes. We also address the mechanistic details of these complexes in mobilizing nucleosomes and altering chromatin structure. A better understanding of these issues will be vital for further analyses of subunits of these chromatin remodelers, which are being identified as targets in human diseases by NGS (next-generation sequencing).

Keywords: ATRX; CHD; INO80; ISWI; SWI/SNF; SWR1; cancer; differentiation; epigenetics; histone; nucleosome; transcription.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chromatin / chemistry*
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray / methods
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Nucleosomes / chemistry*
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Nucleosomes
  • Transcription Factors
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • DNA