Chromatin and Transcription Regulation

Transcription, synthesis of RNA from a DNA template, is the first step in gene expression, the process by which phenotype emerges from genotype. Eukaryotic genomes are packaged with a set of proteins into chromatin, which governs access to the underlying DNA. Chromatin is modifiable in a locus-specific manner through alterations in protein composition (e.g. histone variants, linker histones, nucleosome-free regions), post-translational modifications (e.g. methylations, acetylations) and higher-order structure. Its ability to regulate access to DNA intricately links chromatin to transcriptional regulation by promoting or preventing access to transcription factors/machinery and enhancer-promoter communication. Research efforts of many faculty in Cell Biology are aimed at understanding the fundamental processes that regulate chromatin structure and transcriptional regulation and how they affect various aspects of development and disease.