The recent article from Gómez‐del Arco et al (2016) in Cell Metabolism reveals the essential role of chromodomain‐helicase‐DNA‐binding protein 4 (CHD4) in the control of alternative gene expression in cell types that share seemingly redundant, yet distinct, biological properties, such as the contractile activities of striated cardiac or skeletal muscles. An altered expression of genes for alternative sarcomeric and metabolic programs occurred upon genetic inactivation of Chd4 in skeletal or cardiac cells, leading to formation of “hybrid” striated muscles and pathological outcomes.
See also: P Gómez‐del Arco et al (May 2016)
Despite harboring identical genetic information, the vast majority of the cells in multicellular organisms activate selective patterns of gene expression to differentiate into specialized cell types. In eukaryotes, a central mechanism for cell type‐specific gene regulation is achieved through the concerted action of tissue‐specific transcriptional activators, chromatin‐ and DNA‐modifying complexes that leads to unique patterns of epigenetic modifications required for selective gene expression. The individual contribution of distinct epigenetic regulators to the specification of the cell types that comprise different tissues and organs during mammalian development has begun to be appreciated in the last decade. However, a puzzling issue that remains to be resolved relates to the control of genes that encode proteins implicated in shared, yet distinct, biological properties of certain cell types, as in the case of the contractile activity that is common to striated muscles—for example, cardiac and skeletal fibers. Indeed, these cells express tissue‐specific proteins that build upon a common sarcomeric framework to meet distinct functional requirements for cardiac or skeletal muscle activities. The identity of components of the epigenetic program that controls such a distinctive pattern of gene expression is currently unclear.
In their recent article, Gómez‐del Arco et al (2016) found that chromodomain‐helicase‐DNA‐binding protein 4 (CHD4)‐containing nucleosome remodeling …
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