Studying Chromatin Epigenetics with Fluorescence Microscopy

Afanasii I. Stepanov, Zlata V. Besedovskaia, Maria A. Moshareva, Konstantin A. Lukyanov, Lidia V. Putlyaeva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Epigenetic modifications of histones (methylation, acetylation, phosphorylation, etc.) are of great importance in determining the functional state of chromatin. Changes in epigenome underlay all basic biological processes, such as cell division, differentiation, aging, and cancerous transformation. Post-translational histone modifications are mainly studied by immunoprecipitation with high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-Seq). It enables an accurate profiling of target modifications along the genome, but suffers from the high cost of analysis and the inability to work with living cells. Fluorescence microscopy represents an attractive complementary approach to characterize epigenetics. It can be applied to both live and fixed cells, easily compatible with high-throughput screening, and provide access to rich spatial information down to the single cell level. In this review, we discuss various fluorescent probes for histone modification detection. Various types of live-cell imaging epigenetic sensors suitable for conventional as well as super-resolution fluorescence microscopy are described. We also focus on problems and future perspectives in the development of fluorescent probes for epigenetics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8988
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • epigenetics
  • fluorescent proteins
  • genetically encoded probes
  • histone modification


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