3D genomics across the tree of life reveals condensin II as a determinant of architecture type

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Science  28 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6545, pp. 984-989
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe2218

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Organismal evolution of the 3D genome

The conformation of chromosomes within the nucleus can reflect a cell's type or state. However, studies of the conservation and evolutionary history of the mechanisms regulating genome structure across species are lacking. Hoencamp et al. mapped three-dimensional (3D) genome organization in 24 eukaryote species, including animals, fungi, and plants. At interphase, species' telomeres and centromeres either clustered across chromosomes or oriented in a polarized state maintaining individual chromosomal territories within the cell, a difference attributed to condensin II. An experimental loss of condensin II in human cells promotes the formation of centromere clusters but has no effect on loop or compartment formation. Whether the structure of the 3D genome varies across species may thus depend on whether they carry a functional condensin II gene.

Science, abe2218, this issue p. 984


We investigated genome folding across the eukaryotic tree of life. We find two types of three-dimensional (3D) genome architectures at the chromosome scale. Each type appears and disappears repeatedly during eukaryotic evolution. The type of genome architecture that an organism exhibits correlates with the absence of condensin II subunits. Moreover, condensin II depletion converts the architecture of the human genome to a state resembling that seen in organisms such as fungi or mosquitoes. In this state, centromeres cluster together at nucleoli, and heterochromatin domains merge. We propose a physical model in which lengthwise compaction of chromosomes by condensin II during mitosis determines chromosome-scale genome architecture, with effects that are retained during the subsequent interphase. This mechanism likely has been conserved since the last common ancestor of all eukaryotes.

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