Chromatin acts as an organizer and indexer of genomic DNA and is a highly dynamic and regulated structure with properties directly related to its constituent parts. Histone variants are abundant components of chromatin that replace canonical histones in a subset of nucleosomes, thereby altering nucleosomal characteristics. The present review focuses on the H2A variant histones, summarizing current knowledge of how H2A variants can introduce chemical and functional heterogeneity into chromatin, the positions that nucleosomes containing H2A variants occupy in eukaryotic genomes, and the regulation of these localization patterns.

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