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Eukaryotic DNA is packaged in the form of chromatin. The structure of chromatin is important in the regulation of gene expression and replication of DNA. The H1 or linker histones are a family of chromosomal proteins that are responsible for condensing chromatin into higher order conformation, and accordingly play a major role in the regulation of transcription and replication. The mechanisms, by which H1s facilitate higher order packaging of chromatin, as well as the role of each of the different H1 variants in the packaging process, are unknown. The long-term goal of my lab's research is to better define the role of H1s in chromatin by identifying the structural features responsible for functional differences among H1 variants. Our in vivo approach is to overproduce individual H1 variants and mutant H1s, that we have constructed, in tissue culture cells to study their effect on cell cycle progression, gene expression and chromatin structure. Presently, using this overexpression system, we are doing DNA microarray analysis and other techniques to assess the global differences in gene expression caused by particular H1 variants.
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