In this review article we present a compilation of the proteins homologous to Escherichia coli HU: the HU-like family. Two of these, HU and IHF from E coli have been extensively characterized genetically and biochemically. Due to their DNA binding activities, these proteins confer a condensed shape to the chromosome and regulate the transcription of selected sets of its genes. The parallel between the dual function of the HU-like proteins and the roles described for eukaryotic histone and HMG proteins is striking, especially in the view that they are evolutionary unrelated.
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