Lysine acetylation is a fundamental post-translational modification that plays an important role in the control of gene transcription in chromatin in an ordered fashion. The bromodomain, the conserved structural module present in transcription-associated proteins, functions exclusively to recognize acetyl-lysine on histones and non-histone proteins. The structural analyses of bromodomains' recognition of lysine-acetylated peptides derived from histones and cellular proteins provide detailed insights into the differences and unifying features of biological ligand binding selectivity by the bromodomains. Newly developed small-molecule inhibitors targeting bromodomain proteins further highlight the functional importance of bromodomain/acetyl-lysine binding as a key mechanism in orchestrating molecular interactions and regulation in chromatin biology and gene transcription. These new studies argue that modulating bromodomain/acetyl-lysine interactions with small-molecule chemicals offer new opportunities to control gene expression in a wide array of human diseases including cancer and inflammation. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Molecular mechanisms of histone modification function.
Keywords: Bromodomain; Gene transcription; Small molecule inhibitors.
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