PerspectiveMolecular Biology

RNAi and Heterochromatin--a Hushed-Up Affair

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Science  13 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5588, pp. 1818-1819
DOI: 10.1126/science.1075874

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Sometimes it is necessary to silence genes, a process that involves shutting down regions of active chromatin. Genes can be silenced by methylation of lysine 9 in histone H3 of chromatin, but RNAi also turns out to be important in chromatin-based gene silencing. In a Perspective, Robin Allshire discusses new work (Volpe et al.) that shows how RNAi is able to shut down chromatin in fission yeast by promoting H3 lysine 9 methylation, perhaps by altering the recruitment of enzymes that methylate DNA and histones.