Although many histone variants are specific to higher eukaryotes, the H2A variant H2A.Z has been conserved during eukaryotic evolution. Genetic studies have demonstrated roles for H2A.Z in antagonizing gene-silencing, chromosome stability and gene activation. Biochemical work has identified a conserved chromatin-remodeling complex responsible for H2A.Z deposition. Recent studies have shown that two H2A.Z nucleosomes flank a nucleosome-free region containing the transcription initiation site in promoters of both active and inactive genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This chromatin pattern is generated through the action of a DNA deposition signal and a specific pattern of histone tail acetylation. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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