SET domain proteins modulate chromatin domains in eu- and heterochromatin

Cell Mol Life Sci. 1998 Jan;54(1):80-93. doi: 10.1007/s000180050127.


The SET domain is a 130-amino acid, evolutionarily conserved sequence motif present in chromosomal proteins that function in modulating gene activities from yeast to mammals. Initially identified as members of the Polycomb- and trithorax-group (Pc-G and trx-G) gene families, which are required to maintain expression boundaries of homeotic selector (HOM-C) genes, SET domain proteins are also involved in position-effect-variegation (PEV), telomeric and centromeric gene silencing, and possibly in determining chromosome architecture. These observations implicate SET domain proteins as multifunctional chromatin regulators with activities in both eu- and heterochromatin--a role consistent with their modular structure, which combines the SET domain with additional sequence motifs of either a cysteine-rich region/zinc-finger type or the chromo domain. Multiple functions for chromatin regulators are not restricted to the SET protein family, since many trx-G (but only very few Pc-G) genes are also modifiers of PEV. Together, these data establish a model in which the modulation of chromatin domains is mechanistically linked with the regulation of key developmental loci (e.g. HOM-C).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chromatin / drug effects
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Heterochromatin / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proteins / physiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Suppression, Genetic
  • Transcription Factors


  • Chromatin
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Heterochromatin
  • Proteins
  • Transcription Factors