Chromatin immunoprecipitation: advancing analysis of nuclear hormone signaling

    1. Debabrata Chakravarti
    1. Division of Reproductive Biology Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, 303 East Superior Street, Lurie 4-119, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA
    1. (Correspondence should be addressed to D Chakravarti; Email: debu{at}


    Recent decades have been filled with groundbreaking research in the field of endocrine hormone signaling. Pivotal events like the isolation and purification of the estrogen receptor, the cloning of glucocorticoid receptor cDNA, or dissemination of nuclear hormone receptor (NHR) DNA binding sequences are well recognized for their contributions. However, the novel genome-wide and gene-specific information obtained over the last decade describing NHR association with chromatin, cofactors, and epigenetic modifications, as well as their role in gene regulation, has been largely facilitated by the adaptation of the chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) technique. Use of ChIP-based technologies has taken the field of hormone signaling from speculating about the transcription-enabling properties of acetylated chromatin and putative transcription (co-)factor genomic occupancy to demonstrating the detailed, stepwise mechanisms of factor binding and transcriptional initiation; from treating hormone-induced transcription as a steady-state event to understanding its dynamic and cyclic nature; from looking at the DNA sequences recognized by various DNA-binding domains in vitro to analyzing the cell-specific genome-wide pattern of nuclear receptor binding and interpreting its physiological implications. Not only have these events propelled hormone research, but, as some of the pioneering studies, have also contributed tremendously to the field of molecular endocrinology as a whole. In this review, we give a brief summary of some of the most important discoveries in hormone signaling using ChIP and other derivative techniques and speculate on what the future may hold.

    • Revision received 2 June 2012
    • Accepted 7 August 2012
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 7 August 2012
    | Table of Contents