Chromatin is a highly complex mixture of proteins and DNA that is involved in the regulation and coordination of gene expression within the eukaryotic nucleus. Changes in chromatin structure can convey heritable changes of gene activity in response to external stimuli without altering the primary DNA sequence. This epigenetic inheritance of particular traits very likely plays a major role during evolutionary processes. It is however, still ill-defined how this non DNA-mediated inheritance is accomplished at a molecular level. The advent of new methods to systematically study genome-wide changes in chromatin condensation, DNA methylation levels, RNA synthesis and the association of specific proteins or protein modifications now allows a thorough investigation of changes in chromatin structure and function in response to environmental alterations. We would like to review some of these global approaches and to introduce the term "chromatomics" for the systematic analysis of the DNA, RNA and protein content of the genetic material in the eukaryotic nucleus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)