Histones are basic proteins that package and order the DNA into structures called nucleosomes. Nucleosomes consist of an octamer of histone proteins and a long “tail” known as the histone tail. Post-translational modifications of the histone tails affect the packaging state and thus have an impact on the transcriptional activation state.
Histone Modification Epigenetics
One key modification is histone acetylation of the N-terminal tail and this is regulated by histone acetyl transferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs). Acetylation is a type of epigenetic marker of chromatin and results in the condensed chromatin “relaxing” and in this state it is known as euchromatin, this allows greater access to the DNA for proteins such as transcription factors and results in greater levels of gene transcription.
HDACs are enzymes which reverse the acetylation of histones, resulting in tightening of the chromatin (heterochromatin) and decreases in gene transcription. Imbalance of histone acetylation is a common aspect of many disorders and HDAC inhibitors are of interest for treatment of cancers, neurodegenerative diseases and metabolic disorders.
Figure 1. The following HDAC knockout cell lines were analyzed by Western blotting using the following antibodies:
Source: Dr. Christian Seiser, MPFL, Medical University of Vienna
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