CRISPR-based epigenome editing uses dCas9 as a platform to recruit transcription or chromatin regulators at chosen loci. Despite recent and ongoing advances, the full potential of these approaches to studying chromatin functions in vivo remains challenging to exploit. In this review we discuss how recent progress in plants and animals provides new routes to investigate the function of chromatin regulators and address the complexity of associated regulations that are often interconnected. While efficient transcriptional engineering methodologies have been developed and can be used as tools to alter the chromatin state of a locus, examples of direct manipulation of chromatin regulators remain scarce in plants. These reports also reveal pitfalls and limitations of epigenome engineering approaches that are nevertheless informative as they are often associated with locus- and context-dependent features, which include DNA accessibility, initial chromatin and transcriptional state or cellular dynamics. Strategies implemented in different organisms to overcome and even take advantage of these limitations are highlighted, which will further improve our ability to establish the causality and hierarchy of chromatin dynamics on genome regulation.
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