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Here we review current knowledge on the enzymes and related binding proteins that are involved in covalent modifications to histones. We begin with a brief overview of the field aimed at the non-expert, then focus on the covalent modifications themselves as catalysed by specific enzymes. We also focus on the consequences of these modifications for binding interactions with other proteins that modulate gene expression. The field is one that is rapidly evolving and we hope to convey some of the excitement that we feel about recent discoveries in histone science, particularly from a molecular perspective. Two inhibitors of histone modifying enzymes are in clinical use, with more likely to be introduced in the near future. Thus, the development of modifiers of histone biochemistry is of medicinal as well as basic interest.

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