PerspectiveMolecular Biology

A unifying model of epigenetic regulation

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Science  12 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6274, pp. 661-662
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf1647

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Expression of the genome is controlled by an intricate “web” of proteins, chemical modifications, and RNA that together organize genomic DNA into chromatin. Molecular studies of the various forms and levels of chromatin organization are advancing rapidly, revealing an increasing number of connections between chromatin and cellular and disease processes, as well as a fast-expanding web of known chromatin factors (1). On page 720, Bintu et al. take a radically different approach to dissecting chromatin, focusing not on molecular but on “algorithmic” chromatin biology (2). By studying how individual chromatin regulators (CRs) operate to produce distinct gene expression outputs within individual cells, they find that chromatin's complexity can be reduced into an elegant and unifying model of gene regulation.