Chromatin remodeling by the small RNA machinery in mammalian cells


Chromatin states, quite different from changes in DNA sequence, can impact fundamental cellular processes such as determination of cell identity and development of disease. However, how chromatin states are established and regulated remain to be fully elucidated. In several lower eukaryotes, the small RNA machinery comprised of small RNA and its partners, the Argonaute proteins, is known to play important roles in the establishment of heterochromatin and silencing of repetitive sequences. In mammalian cells, however, the nuclear function of the small RNA machinery is largely unknown. Emerging evidence suggests that components of the small RNA pathway interact with chromatin to regulate nuclear events, including gene transcription and alternative splicing. In addition, these endogenous mechanisms are being exploited to target specific genomic loci for manipulation of gene expression and splicing events. In this review, I summarize current understanding of chromatin remodeling by small RNAs in mammalian cells and highlight recent efforts to map genome-wide interactions between RNAi-related factors and chromatin.

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Special Focus: Non-coding RNAs in Epigenetic Regulation
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Chromatin remodeling by the small RNA machinery in mammalian cells