Cellular Biochemistry

Activating chromatin by stretching

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Science  23 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6306, pp. 1378-1379
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6306.1378-c

Cells are subject to many mechanical stresses. These forces can profoundly alter cellular biochemistry. Tajik et al. used a magnetic bead on the surface of a cell to apply a shear stress to the cell's nucleus. A linear array of fluorophoremarked genes moved apart, indicating that their chromatin was being stretched. Stretching activates transcription of the marker genes within seconds, suggesting that the stretching effect, propagated through cytoskeletal tension, is direct, with the degree of stretching correlating with the degree of gene activation.

Nat. Mat. 10.1038/NMAT4729 (2016).

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