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Genetics Research International
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 795069, 12 pages
Review Article

Finding a Balance: How Diverse Dosage Compensation Strategies Modify Histone H4 to Regulate Transcription

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, MI 48109-1048, USA

Received 15 June 2011; Accepted 8 August 2011

Academic Editor: Victoria H. Meller

Copyright © 2012 Michael B. Wells et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dosage compensation balances gene expression levels between the sex chromosomes and autosomes and sex-chromosome-linked gene expression levels between the sexes. Different dosage compensation strategies evolved in different lineages, but all involve changes in chromatin. This paper discusses our current understanding of how modifications of the histone H4 tail, particularly changes in levels of H4 lysine 16 acetylation and H4 lysine 20 methylation, can be used in different contexts to either modulate gene expression levels twofold or to completely inhibit transcription.