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REVIEW: Structure and Functions of Linker Histones

A. V. Lyubitelev1, D. V. Nikitin1*, A. K. Shaytan1, V. M. Studitsky1,2*, and M. P. Kirpichnikov1

1Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Biology, 119991 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: dvnikitin@rambler.ru; lyubitelev.av@gmail.com

2Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA; E-mail: Vasily.Studitsky@fccc.edu

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received July 1, 2015; Revision received August 17, 2015
Linker histones such as variants H1, H5, and other similar proteins play an important role in regulation of chromatin structure and dynamics. However, interactions of linker histones with DNA and proteins, as well as specific functions of their different variants, are poorly studied. This is because they acquire tertiary structure only when interacting with a nucleosome, and because of limitations of currently available methods. However, deeper investigation of linker histones and their interactions with other proteins will address a number of important questions – from structure of compacted chromatin to regulation of early embryogenesis. In this review, structures of histone H1 variants and its interaction with chromatin DNA are considered. A possible functional significance of different H1 variants, a role of these proteins in maintaining interphase chromatin structure, and interactions of linker histones with other cellular proteins are also discussed.
KEY WORDS: linker histones, chromatin structure, eukaryotic transcription

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297916030032