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Transcriptional repressors: multifaceted regulators of gene expression
Nicola Reynolds, Aoife O'Shaughnessy, Brian Hendrich


Through decades of research it has been established that some chromatin-modifying proteins can repress transcription, and thus are generally termed ‘repressors’. Although classic repressors undoubtedly silence transcription, genome-wide studies have shown that many repressors are associated with actively transcribed loci and that this is a widespread phenomenon. Here, we review the evidence for the presence of repressors at actively transcribed regions and assess what roles they might be playing. We propose that the modulation of expression levels by chromatin-modifying, co-repressor complexes provides transcriptional fine-tuning that drives development.


  • Funding

    Work in the B.H. laboratory is supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in the Basic Biomedical Sciences; by the European Commission's 7th Framework Programes DisChrom and 4DCellFate; and by Wellcome Trust – Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute.

  • Competing interests statement

    The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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