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The mechanistic basis for chromatin regulation by pioneer transcription factors

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Pioneer transcription factors play a primary role in establishing competence for gene expression and initiating cellular programming and reprogramming, and their dysregulation causes severe effects on human health, such as promoting tumorigenesis. Although more than 200 transcription factors are expressed in each cell type, only a small number of transcription factors are necessary to elicit dramatic cell‐fate changes in embryonic development and cell‐fate conversion. Among these key transcription factors, a subset called “pioneer transcription factors” have a remarkable ability to target nucleosomal DNA, or closed chromatin, early in development, often leading to the local opening of chromatin, thereby establishing competence for gene expression. Although more key transcription factors have been identified as pioneer transcription factors, the molecular mechanisms behind their special properties are only beginning to be revealed. Understanding the pioneering mechanisms will enhance our ability to precisely control cell fate at will for research and therapeutic purposes. This article is categorized under: Biological Mechanisms > Cell Fates Biological Mechanisms > Regulatory Biology Developmental Biology > Lineages
Steps of chromatin regulation by pioneer factors: binding, opening, and beyond
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Developmental Biology > Lineages
Biological Mechanisms > Regulatory Biology
Biological Mechanisms > Cell Fates

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