Facultative heterochromatin: is there a distinctive molecular signature?
The Latin word "facultas" literally means "opportunity." Facultative heterochromatin (fHC) then designates genomic regions in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell that have the opportunity to adopt open or compact conformations within temporal and spatial contexts. This review focuses on the molecular and functional aspects of fHC that distinguish it from constitutive heterochromatin (cHC) and euchromatin (EC) and discusses various concepts regarding the regulation of fHC structure. We begin by revisiting the historical developments that gave rise to our current appreciation of fHC.