The human genome is approximately three billion nucleotides in composition and, if stretched along a single, continuous strand, would span almost two meters. The organization of this entity within the confines of a nucleus is an essential challenge for every eukaryotic cell. Darkly staining nuclear material was observed by early microscopists and called chromatin, which later proved to be the structural answer to this problem. Chromatin structure and its place in regulated gene expression, cellular homeostasis and loss of function in disease form ever-expanding and fundamental interests for basic scientists, as well as clinicians. This chapter addresses the basics of chromatin structure, how regulation by chromatin structure has been studied, the specifics of activated, repressed and silenced chromatin, identification of chromatin remodeling complexes and histone modifiers, and their functions in regulation of gene expression.

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