The initiation of cellular differentiation involves alterations in gene expression that depend on chromatin changes, at the level of both higher-order structures and individual genes. Consistent with this, chromatin-remodelling enzymes have key roles in differentiation and development. The functions of ATP-dependent chromatin-remodelling enzymes have been studied in several mammalian differentiation pathways, revealing cell-type-specific and gene-specific roles for these proteins that add another layer of precision to the regulation of differentiation. Recent studies have also revealed a role for ATP-dependent remodelling in regulating the balance between proliferation and differentiation, and have uncovered intriguing links between chromatin remodelling and other cellular processes during differentiation, including recombination, genome organization and the cell cycle.
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