On this day in 1996…

The paper “Tetrahymena Histone Acetyltransferase A: A Homolog to Yeast Gcn5p Linking Histone Acetylation to Gene Activation” by James Brownell, Jianxin Zhou, Tamara Ranalli, Ryuji Kobayashi, Diane Edmondson, Sharon Roth, and C. David Allis was published in Cell. This paper describes the identification for the first time of a specific protein that modifies the structure of the histone, which may change the activity of the gene without a commensurate change in the sequence of the DNA. (For more background on Allis’ work, see the New Yorker article “Same but Different” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, as well as this article from Vox about the disagreements around Muhkerjee’s interpretation of these results.)

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