PerspectiveMolecular Biology

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Science  15 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6087, pp. 1391-1392
DOI: 10.1126/science.1224272

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In eukaryotes, the two states of chromatin were first distinguished cytologically according to their different levels of condensation. Euchromatin has an open conformation that correlates with an active state of gene expression, whereas the transcriptionally silent heterochromatin is tightly packaged. On page 1448 of this issue, Moissiard et al. describe the identification of proteins that are specifically required for the condensed structure of heterochromatin in flowering plants (1). And on page 1445 of this issue, Qian et al. (2) identify a plant protein that binds to biochemically modified DNA and itself modifies histones to generate a chromatin state that allows active DNA demethylation (and gene expression).