An early view of eukaryotic chromosomes was that of static structures, which stored DNA not in use within a given cell type. It was thought that packaging of DNA into higher levels of chromatin structure would suffice to repress gene expression and that the challenge to the cell would be to rescue specific sequences from these structures. The exten sive packaging of inactive DNA was considered the primary difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic genomes and except for that point both would be similarly regulated by cis-acting sequences and trans acting factors. Our view of eukaryotic chromosomes has evolved dra matically over the last decade. The picture of chromosomes that is emerging is that of dynamic breathing organelles actively regulating the flow of genetic information from the genome. Indeed chromatin is so fluid that even maintaining gene quiescence is an active process and is tightly regulated. Chromatin dynamics is a consequence of protein complexes that modify histones, remove histone modifications, mobi lize nucleosomes or stabilize nucleosomes. Awide variety of such com plexes have now been described. Some are abundant and may play glo bal roles in chromosome fluidity and function. Others are more rare and specialized for specific functions at discreet loci. Moreover, several complexes share biochemical activities and genetic studies suggest overlapping functions in vivo. Many components of these complexes were first revealed in genetic screens, while others were discovered by novel cell biological or biochemical approaches.
Chromatin dynamics is a consequence of protein complexes that modify histones, remove histone modifications, mobilize nucleosomes or stabilize nucleosomes. A wide variety of such complexes have now been described. Some are abundant and may play global roles, others are more rare and specialized for functions at discreet loci. Several complexes share biochemical activities and genetic studies suggest overlapping functions. Many components of these complexes were first revealed in genetic screens, while others were discovered by novel biochemical approaches. This volume of Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology reviews a wide variety of protein complexes that modify chromatin.
Nucleosome assembly and remodeling.-Chromatin Proteins are determinants of centromere function.-HP1 complexes and heterochomatin assembly.-SMC protein complexes and the maintenance of chromosome integrity.-Selective gene regulation by SWI/SNF-related chromatin remodeling factors.-The SWI/SNF family of ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers: similar mechanisms for diverse functions.-Changing the DNA landscape: putting a SPN on Chromatin.-The MYST family of histone acetyltransferases.-N-CoR-HDAC corepressor complexes: roles in transcriptional regulation by nuclear receptors.-The NuRD complex: linking histone modification to nucleosome remodeling.-Subject index