Biological Functions of HMGN Chromosomal Proteins

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jan 10;21(2):449. doi: 10.3390/ijms21020449.


Chromatin plays a key role in regulating gene expression programs necessary for the orderly progress of development and for preventing changes in cell identity that can lead to disease. The high mobility group N (HMGN) is a family of nucleosome binding proteins that preferentially binds to chromatin regulatory sites including enhancers and promoters. HMGN proteins are ubiquitously expressed in all vertebrate cells potentially affecting chromatin function and epigenetic regulation in multiple cell types. Here, we review studies aimed at elucidating the biological function of HMGN proteins, focusing on their possible role in vertebrate development and the etiology of disease. The data indicate that changes in HMGN levels lead to cell type-specific phenotypes, suggesting that HMGN optimize epigenetic processes necessary for maintaining cell identity and for proper execution of specific cellular functions. This manuscript contains tables that can be used as a comprehensive resource for all the English written manuscripts describing research aimed at elucidating the biological function of the HMGN protein family.

Keywords: HMGN proteins; chromatin; development; epigenetics; gene regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin
  • Disease
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • HMGN Proteins
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / classification
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / genetics
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • HMGN Proteins
  • High Mobility Group Proteins