Cell differentiation is the process by which genetic information is selectively expressed to produce cells with various morphologies and functions. The integrated changes necessary for this fundamentally important process have recently been the subject of intense study. This review will summarize data from several laboratories correlating differentiation with the activity of the enzyme ADP-ribosyl transferase and with changes in single-strand DNA breaks in various diverse eukaryotic systems. We will then discuss the implications of these observations for differentiation in general, including the possibility that rearrangement of geneticmaterialisa widespread mechanism for controlling gene expression.

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