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Histone Variants: The Nexus of Developmental Decisions and Epigenetic Memory

Benjamin Loppin, Frédéric Berger
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics , Volume 54, pp 121-149; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022620-100039

Abstract: Nucleosome dynamics and properties are central to all forms of genomic activities. Among the core histones, H3 variants play a pivotal role in modulating nucleosome structure and function. Here, we focus on the impact of H3 variants on various facets of development. The deposition of the replicative H3 variant following DNA replication is essential for the transmission of the epigenomic information encoded in posttranscriptional modifications. Through this process, replicative H3 maintains cell fate while, in contrast, the replacement H3.3 variant opposes cell differentiation during early embryogenesis. In later steps of development, H3.3 and specialized H3 variants are emerging as new, important regulators of terminal cell differentiation, including neurons and gametes. The specific pathways that regulate the dynamics of the deposition of H3.3 are paramount during reprogramming events that drive zygotic activation and the initiation of a new cycle of development.
Keywords: differentiation / reprogramming / Function / structure / epigenetic / nucleosome / H3.3 / H3 Variants

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