Behaviors observed at the cellular level such as development and acquisition of effector functions by immune cells result from transcriptional changes. The biochemical mediators of transcription are sequence-specific transcription factors (TFs), chromatin modifying enzymes, and chromatin, the complex of DNA and histone proteins. Covalent modification of DNA and histones, also termed epigenetic modification, influences the accessibility of target sequences for transcription factors on chromatin and the expression of linked genes required for immune functions. Genome-wide techniques such as ChIP-Seq have described the entire "cistrome" of transcription factors involved in specific developmental steps of B and T cells and started to define specific immune responses in terms of the binding profiles of critical effectors and epigenetic modification patterns. Current data suggest that both promoters and enhancers are prepared for action at different stages of activation by epigenetic modification through distinct transcription factors in different cells.
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