Spatial organization of chromatin domains and compartments in single chromosomes

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Science  05 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6299, pp. 598-602
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8084

Spatial organization inside the nucleus

In eukaryotic cells, DNA is packaged into a complex macromolecular structure called chromatin. Wang et al. have developed an imaging method to map the position of multiple regions on individual chromosomes, and the results confirm that chromatin is organized into large contact domains called TADS (topologically associating domains). Unexpectedly, though, folding deviates from the classical fractal-globule model at large length scales.

Science, this issue p. 598


The spatial organization of chromatin critically affects genome function. Recent chromosome-conformation-capture studies have revealed topologically associating domains (TADs) as a conserved feature of chromatin organization, but how TADs are spatially organized in individual chromosomes remains unknown. Here, we developed an imaging method for mapping the spatial positions of numerous genomic regions along individual chromosomes and traced the positions of TADs in human interphase autosomes and X chromosomes. We observed that chromosome folding deviates from the ideal fractal-globule model at large length scales and that TADs are largely organized into two compartments spatially arranged in a polarized manner in individual chromosomes. Active and inactive X chromosomes adopt different folding and compartmentalization configurations. These results suggest that the spatial organization of chromatin domains can change in response to regulation.

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