University Of Tasmania

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The role of epigenetic regulation in transcriptional memory in the immune system

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 03:51 authored by Alexandra WoodworthAlexandra Woodworth, Adele HollowayAdele Holloway
The immune system is exquisitely poised to identify, respond to, and eradicate pathogens from the body, as well as to produce a more rapid and augmented response to a subsequent encounter with the pathogen. These cellular responses rely on the highly coordinated and rapid activation of gene expression programs as well as the ability of the cell to retain a memory of the initial gene response. It is clear that chromatin structure and epigenetic mechanisms play a crucial role in determining these gene responses, and in fact the immune system has proved an instructive model for investigating the multifaceted mechanisms through which the chromatin landscape contributes to gene expression programs. These mechanisms include modifications to the DNA and histone proteins, the positioning, composition, and remodeling of nucleosomes, as well as the formation of higher-order chromatin structures. Moreover, it is now apparent that epigenetic mechanisms also provide an instrument by which cells can retain memory of the initial transcriptional response, “priming” the genome so that it can respond more quickly to subsequent exposure to the signal. Here, we use the immune system as a model to demonstrate the complex interplay between transcription factors and the chromatin landscape required to orchestrate precise gene responses to external stimuli and further to demonstrate how these interactions can establish memory of past transcriptional events. We focus on what we have learnt from the immune system and how this can inform our understanding of other cellular systems.


Publication title

Advances in Protein Chemistry and Structural Biology








Tasmanian School of Medicine



Place of publication


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© 2017 Elsevier Inc

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the health sciences