The chromatin state of a gene encodes the regulatory information that controls its expression. This information exists in the locations and structures of the nucleosomes as well as in the many covalent modifications present on the packaging proteins, the histones. A given chromatin state is created, maintained and altered by the combined action of chromatin remodeling enzymes, histone modifying enzymes and histone binding proteins. An ability to rapidly transition between different chromatin states is necessary to ensure rapid transcriptional responses to developmental and environmental signals and an ability to stably maintain chromatin states is necessary to lock in the transcriptional patterns of differentiated cells.
We are interested in understanding how the information content of chromatin states is regulated by the different factors that catalyze rapid changes in chromatin structure as well the factors that help maintain defined chromatin structures. We use a combination of biophysical and structural approaches to address these questions.