Genome Regulation by Polycomb and Trithorax: 70 Years and Counting

Cell. 2017 Sep 21;171(1):34-57. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.08.002.


Polycomb (PcG) and Trithorax (TrxG) group proteins are evolutionarily conserved chromatin-modifying factors originally identified as part of an epigenetic cellular memory system that maintains repressed or active gene expression states. Recently, they have been shown to globally control a plethora of cellular processes. This functional diversity is achieved by their ability to regulate chromatin at multiple levels, ranging from modifying local chromatin structure to orchestrating the three-dimensional organization of the genome. Understanding this system is a fascinating challenge of critical relevance for biology and medicine, since misexpression or mutation of multiple PcG components, as well as of TrxG members of the COMPASS family and of the SWI/SNF complex, is implicated in cancer and other diseases.

Keywords: cancer; cellular memory; chromatin; development; epigenetics; nuclear architecture; polycomb; transcription; transgenerational epigenetic inheritance; trithorax.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / history
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genome
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / history
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins / metabolism*


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins