The histone tails of the nucleosome

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 1998 Apr;8(2):140-6. doi: 10.1016/s0959-437x(98)80134-2.


Reversible acetylation of core histone tails plays an important role in the regulation of eukaryotic transcription, in the formation of repressive chromatin complexes, and in the inactivation of whole chromosomes. The high-resolution X-ray structure of the nucleosome core particle, as well as earlier evidence, suggests that the histone tails are largely responsible for the assembly of nucleosomes into chromatin fibers and implies that the physiological effects of histone acetylation may be achieved by modulation of a dynamic inter-conversion between the fiber and a less condensed nucleofilament structure. In addition, the tails and adjacent regions serve as recognition sites for chromatin assembly and transcription remodeling machinery and the interactions that occur may also be responsive to histone acetylation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Histones / chemistry*
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Histones
  • Nucleosomes