Chromatin dynamics involved in gene regulation
There is a growing interest in manipulating chromatin dynamics for applications in cell signalling, drug discovery and chromatin research. Progress in this area requires the identification of design rules for the chromatin system.
DNA in cells is wrapped around proteins called histones forming structures known as nucleosomes. These nucleosomes can fold into higher ordered structures, concealing DNA within them. This reduces accessibility to the DNA and adds another layer to the regulation of gene expression. This is a new target for drug discovery.
Opening of these structures to expose the DNA is influenced, among other factors, by gene expression levels. The deregulation of gene expression levels could be responsible for many diseases possibly because proteins in charge of the burial of DNA in the nucleosomes are themselves deregulated. Studying these potential changes in gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence is known as Epigenetics, an actively expanding research field.