Eukaryotic DNA is wrapped around histone core particles to build up chromatin. The structure of chromatin is spatially modulated and varies throughout the cell nucleus. One drastic example are the heterochromatic chromocenters in differentiated mouse cells that can readily be distinguished from euchromatic regions by fluorescence microscopy. This heterogeneity has functional implications since chromatin structure is correlated with transcriptional activation & regulation. Although numerous factors influencing chromatin organization have been identified, the underlying mechanisms that are sufficient to locally define chromatin structure are still elusive. To test such mechanisms, artificial chromatin patterns are induced using both in vitro experiments and cell culture systems. The synthetic patterns are studied with microscopy approaches as well as biochemical techniques. In particular, the potential to establish self-organized domains and to extend them by spreading mechanisms will be investigated.
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Epigenetic Networks and Signal Transduction