Molecular Epigenetics: Chemical Biology Tools Come of Age

John D. Bagert, Tom W. Muir

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The field of epigenetics has exploded over the last two decades, revealing an astonishing level of complexity in the way genetic information is stored and accessed in eukaryotes. This expansion of knowledge, which is very much ongoing, has been made possible by the availability of evermore sensitive and precise molecular tools. This review focuses on the increasingly important role that chemistry plays in this burgeoning field. In an effort to make these contributions more accessible to the nonspecialist, we group available chemical approaches into those that allow the covalent structure of the protein and DNA components of chromatin to be manipulated, those that allow the activity of myriad factors that act on chromatin to be controlled, and those that allow the covalent structure and folding of chromatin to be characterized. The application of these tools is illustrated through a series of case studies that highlight how the molecular precision afforded by chemistry is being used to establish causal biochemical relationships at the heart of epigenetic regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-320
Number of pages34
JournalAnnual review of biochemistry
StatePublished - Jun 20 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry


  • Chemical biology
  • Chemical tools
  • Chromatin
  • Epigenetics


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