The selection and function of cell type-specific enhancers

Sven Heinz, Casey E. Romanoski, Christopher Benner, Christopher K. Glass

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

518 Scopus citations

Abstract

The human body contains several hundred cell types, all of which share the same genome. In metazoans, much of the regulatory code that drives cell type-specific gene expression is located in distal elements called enhancers. Although mammalian genomes contain millions of potential enhancers, only a small subset of them is active in a given cell type. Cell type-specific enhancer selection involves the binding of lineage-determining transcription factors that prime enhancers. Signal-dependent transcription factors bind to primed enhancers, which enables these broadly expressed factors to regulate gene expression in a cell type-specific manner. The expression of genes that specify cell type identity and function is associated with densely spaced clusters of active enhancers known as super-enhancers. The functions of enhancers and super-enhancers are influenced by, and affect, higher-order genomic organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-154
Number of pages11
JournalNature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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