Histones were discovered in 1884 by Albrecht Kossel. They are highly alkaline proteins found in eukaryotic cell nuclei that package and order the DNA into structural units called nucleosomes. They are the chief protein components of chromatin, acting as spools around which DNA winds.

Histones characterization has led to five major families: H1/H5, H2A, H2B, H3 and H4. Histones H2A, H2B, H3 and H4 are known as the core histones, while histones H1 and H5 are known as the linker histones. Two of each of the core histones assemble to form one octameric nucleosome core particle, and 147 base pairs of DNA wrap around this core particle 1.65 times in a left-handed super-helical turn. The linker histone H1 binds the nucleosome at the entry and exit sites of the DNA, thus locking the DNA into place and allowing the formation of higher order structure.

Histones can undergo numerous posttranslational modifications (PTMs) that alter their interaction with DNA and nuclear proteins. Epigenetic modifications, such as acetylation, phosphorylation, methylation, ubiquitination, and ADP ribosylation, of the highly conserved core histones, H2A, H2B, H3, and H4, influence the genetic potential of DNA. The enormous regulatory potential of histone modification is illustrated in the vast array of epigenetic markers found throughout the genome. More than the other types of histone modification, acetylation and methylation of specific lysine residues on N-terminal histone tails are fundamental for the formation of chromatin domains, such as euchromatin, and facultative and constitutive heterochromatin. In addition, the modification of histones can cause a region of chromatin to undergo nuclear compartmentalization and, as such, specific epigenetic markers are non-randomly distributed within interphase nuclei.

Histone modifications have important implications for human health and disease. Mounting evidence exists to link abnormalities in histone PTMs and histone modifying enzymes to human pathologies, including developmental, autoimmune, neurological, inflammatory and neoplastic disorders. The importance of studying histone modifications is evident in various research areas.

BioVision's histones portfolio includes numerous recombinant core histone proteins as well as antibodies and blocking peptides for these histone proteins to aid your epigenetic research.

Histones Subcategories

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