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Chromatin Dynamics and Higher-Order Chromatin Organization

Epigenetic Regulation and Epigenomics

  1. Anette Zeilner,
  2. Paolo Piatti,
  3. Alexandra Lusser

Published Online: 15 MAY 2012

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.201100027

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Zeilner, A., Piatti, P. and Lusser, A. 2012. Chromatin Dynamics and Higher-Order Chromatin Organization. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. Innsbruck Medical University, Division of Molecular Biology, Innsbruck, Austria

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAY 2012


The association of nuclear DNA with histones and other specialized proteins in eukaryotes creates a complex structure that is known as chromatin. Although, at its most basic level, chromatin consists of a seemingly monotonous succession of repeating units – the nucleosomes – chromatin structure as a whole is extremely heterogeneous. The heterogeneity is a consequence of nuclear activity, and reflects the need to maintain some areas of the genome accessible to DNA-utilizing processes, while other regions require shielding from unwanted interactions with nuclear factors. Every biological process ultimately receives its input from information that is stored within the DNA. Therefore, to understand how the cell achieves an efficient packaging of the long DNA molecule while, at the same time, utilizing this structure as a regulatory level by constantly modulating its appearance and functional properties, has been the focus of intense research for the past few decades. In this chapter, various aspects of the structure–function relationship of chromatin will be discussed, and some of the important mechanisms that endow chromatin with the ability for dynamic changes will be highlighted. Due to the width of the field, the aim is not to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject; rather, the basic concepts of interplay between functional requirements and structural setting will be illustrated, by using some well-studied examples.


  • Chromatin;
  • Nucleosome;
  • 30 nm fiber;
  • Nuclear lamina;
  • Post-translational modifications;
  • Chromatin remodeling;
  • Histone variants;
  • Architectural proteins;
  • Insulator