Review

Molecular Signals of Epigenetic States

Science  29 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6004, pp. 612-616
DOI: 10.1126/science.1191078

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Abstract

Epigenetic signals are responsible for the establishment, maintenance, and reversal of metastable transcriptional states that are fundamental for the cell’s ability to “remember” past events, such as changes in the external environment or developmental cues. Complex epigenetic states are orchestrated by several converging and reinforcing signals, including transcription factors, noncoding RNAs, DNA methylation, and histone modifications. Although all of these pathways modulate transcription from chromatin in vivo, the mechanisms by which epigenetic information is transmitted through cell division remain unclear. Because epigenetic states are metastable and change in response to the appropriate signals, a deeper understanding of their molecular framework will allow us to tackle the dysregulation of epigenetics in disease.

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