Chromatin remodeling enzymes are large molecular machines that guard the genome by reorganizing chromatin structure. They can reposition, space and evict nucleosomes and thus control gene expression, DNA replication and repair. Recent cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) analyses have captured snapshots of various chromatin remodelers as they interact with nucleosomes. In this review, we summarize and discuss the advances made in our understanding of the regulation of chromatin remodelers, the mode of DNA translocation, as well as the influence of associated protein domains and remodeler subunits on the specific functions of chromatin remodeling complexes. The emerging structural information will help our understanding of disease mechanisms and guide our knowledge toward innovative therapeutic interventions.
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