Epigenetics & Chromatin celebrates its first anniversary

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    ssBioMed CentEpigenetics & Chromatin

    Open AcceEditorialEpigenetics & Chromatin celebrates its first anniversarySteven Henikoff*1 and Frank Grosveld*2

    Address: 1Basic Sciences Division and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Washington, USA and 2Department of Cell Biology, and Department of Reproduction and Development, Erasmus MC - University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

    Email: Steven Henikoff* - steveh@fhcrc.org; Frank Grosveld* - f.grosveld@erasmusmc.nl

    * Corresponding authors

    EditorialEpigenetics & Chromatin published its first papers a yearago, together with an editorial in which we stated our aimto publish a high-quality journal with a broad scope. Ayear later we are happy to report that these aims are beingachieved. Papers published so far represent a broad swathof research on chromatin-based processes and epigeneticmechanisms. We are also delighted with the quality andbreadth of submissions from many of the leading labora-tories in the field.

    Among the papers in our inaugural issue was one fromElizabeth Blackburn and co-workers on the use of novel4D imaging describing how human telomeres behave invivo [1]. This landmark study demonstrating the extraor-dinary potential of modern imaging technology for fol-lowing chromosome movements remains our mosthighly accessed paper. A year later, we are delighted tocongratulate Dr. Blackburn for sharing the 2009 NobelPrize in Physiology or Medicine, honoring her pioneeringwork on telomeres and telomerase. Telomeres have alsobeen of great interest in the field of epigenetics and chro-matin, with telomere position-effect and subtelomericrepeats providing important insights into the relationshipbetween chromatin structure and gene silencing. Under-standing the role of telomeres in disease continues to bean important area of research represented in E&C [2].

    Here we review a collection of recent articles that we

    systems for epigenetic research are represented amongthem, including mice, yeast and flies. The articles rangefrom studies of classical epigenetic phenomena, such as X-chromosome inactivation [3] and position-effect variega-tion (PEV) [4], to biochemical and biophysicalapproaches, such as chromatin complex purification [5]and atomic force microscopy [6]. Below, we discuss a fewof these findings.

    The classical phenomenon of PEV, the heritable "spread-ing" of the silent state into a gene by juxtaposition to het-erochromatin, has intrigued geneticists for 80 years. Butdespite substantial progress in understanding the compo-nents of spreading, the mechanism has remained indoubt. In their E&C paper published in January, 2009 [4],Bas van Steensel and colleagues address the question ofspreading by determining the precise pattern of bindingby Heterochromatin-associated Protein 1 (HP1) in classi-cal Drosophila white locus PEV mutants. Surprisingly, theyfind that the distribution of HP1 is highly inhomogene-ous, and that the white gene is unusually sensitive to hete-rochromatic silencing. These findings led the authors topropose a model that reconciles some of the most puz-zling features of PEV.

    Pluripotency lies at the heart of reprogramming and stemcell biology, yet its molecular basis remains unknown.Mouse embryonic stem cells represent a favorite modelfor studying the relationship between epigenetics and

    Published: 2 November 2009

    Epigenetics & Chromatin 2009, 2:13 doi:10.1186/1756-8935-2-13

    Received: 21 October 2009Accepted: 2 November 2009

    This article is available from: http://www.epigeneticsandchromatin.com/content/2/1/13

    2009 Henikoff and Grosveld; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.Page 1 of 2(page number not for citation purposes)

    believe illustrate the scope and quality of articles pub-lished in E&C, which have also been collated to form aspecial anniversary print issue. The most popular model

    chromatin, and this system was used by Azim Surani andcolleagues to investigate the possible role of the ESET his-tone methyltransferase in regulating pluripotency. In their

  • Epigenetics & Chromatin 2009, 2:13 http://www.epigeneticsandchromatin.com/content/2/1/13

    E&C paper published in October, 2009 [7], they describea novel mechanism whereby regulation of pluripotency inthe trophectoderm lineage is maintained, and perhapsestablished, via recruitment of sumoylated ESET by theOct4 transcription factor. This connection between thetranscription factor that regulates pluripotency, a chroma-tin regulator that methylates a key histone residue, andmodification by SUMO ligation, provides an intriguingglimpse into the nuts and bolts of a key developmentalprocess.

    Ultimately, understanding the role of chromatin in medi-ating epigenetic inheritance requires a more completedescription of the process that occurs behind the replica-tion fork, where old nucleosomes are transmitted todaughter strands and new nucleosomes are assembled.However, little is known about this process in vivo, and asa result, the chromatin basis for epigenetic inheritanceremains the subject of much speculation. In their E&Cpaper published in September, 2009 [8], Jessica Tyler andcolleagues describe a novel strategy for investigating thisprocess. Using an inducible yeast promoter that dependsupon nucleosome depletion for initiation of transcrip-tion, they show that neither the presence of the activatornor ongoing transcription are required for inheritance ofthe nucleosome-depleted state. This elegant experimentargues against the simple notion based on phage geneticsthat rebinding by a transcription factor behind the repli-cation fork is what maintains epigenetic inheritance ineukaryotes and reveals how little we truly understandabout chromatin memory.

    The tremendous progress that we have witnessed in thechromatin and epigenetics field exemplified by thesestudies has led to an increasing appreciation for theimportance of chromatin-based processes in biologicalregulation. As a result, many researchers are finding thattheir work is becoming more competitive for space inhigh-impact journals. We recognize that in these cases ajournal such as ours may not be the first choice for sub-mission. Nevertheless, we think that by maintaining thehigh quality of published work, E&C will become increas-ingly attractive for publication of the most excitingresearch in the field. Among the advantages of publishingin E&C are that upon acceptance, a paper is immediatelypublished online in preliminary form, highlighted on theE&C web site and indexed on PubMed. A particularadvantage of online publication is that papers can bemade more readable by including crucial data and proce-dures as part of the main body of the paper, rather thanbeing relegated to supplements. As co-Editors-in-chiefwith long experience in this field, we exercise our judg-ment concerning the necessity for additional experiments

    ble amount of work. Should the circumstances merit it, weare glad to consider accelerated publication of a papersubmitted with decision letters and complete peer reviewsfrom a high-impact journal. This policy was proposed andapproved at a recent meeting of the E&C Editorial Board,and we hope that potential authors will consider thisoption as a way of achieving very rapid publication in ahighly competitive arena.

    As pleased as we are with the overall quality of manu-scripts submitted to E&C, we still need to increase thenumber of submissions and subsequent publication inorder for this venture to succeed. Therefore, when tryingto decide where to send your work for publication, we askthat you take into account the high editorial standards ofE&C, the breadth and excellence of our Editorial Board,the rapid publication upon acceptance, and the advan-tages of open access in reaching your intended audience.On behalf of the E&C team and the Editorial Board, wehope that you will consider our journal for submittingyour work for publication.

    References1. Wang X, Kam Z, Carlton PM, Xu L, Sedat JW, Blackburn EH: Rapid

    telomere motions in live human cells analyzed by highlytime-resolved microscopy. Epigenetics Chromatin 2008, 1:4.

    2. Nakamura AJ, Chiang YJ, Hathcock KS, Horikawa I, Sedelnikova OA,Hodes RJ, Bonner WM: Both telomeric and non-telomericDNA damage are determinants of mammalian cellularsenescence. Epigenetics Chromatin 2008, 1:6.

    3. Navarro P, Chantalat S, Foglio M, Chureau C, Vigneau S, Clerc P,Avner P, Rougeulle C: A role for non-coding Tsix transcriptionin partitioning chromatin domains within the mouse X-inac-tivation centre. Epigenetics Chromatin 2009, 2:8.

    4. Vogel MJ, Pagie L, Talhout W, Nieuwland M, Kerkhoven RM, vanSteensel B: High-resolution mapping of heterochromatinredistribution in a Drosophila position-effect variegationmodel. Epigenetics Chromatin 2009, 2:1.

    5. Lee KK, Swanson SK, Florens L, Washburn MP, Workman JL: YeastSgf73/Ataxin-7 serves to anchor the deubiquitination mod-ule into both SAGA and Slik(SALSA) HAT complexes. Epi-genetics Chromatin 2009, 2:2.

    6. Wang H, Dalal Y, Henikoff S, Lindsay S: Single-epitope recogni-tion imaging of native chromatin. Epigenetics Chromatin 2008,1:10.

    7. Yeap LS, Hayashi K, Surani MA: ERG-associated protein withSET domain (ESET)-Oct4 interaction regulates pluripo-tency and represses the trophectoderm lineage. EpigeneticsChromatin 2009, 2:12.

    8. Ohsawa R, Adkins M, Tyler JK: Epigenetic inheritance of aninducibly nucleosome-depleted promoter and its associatedtranscriptional state in the apparent absence of transcrip-tional activators. Epigenetics Chromatin 2009, 2:11.Page 2 of 2(page number not for citation purposes)

    proposed by referees that would otherwise delay publica-tion of an exciting result and/or represent an unreasona-