Diffusion-driven looping provides a consistent framework for chromatin organization.
ABSTRACT: Chromatin folding inside the interphase nucleus of eukaryotic cells is done on multiple scales of length and time. Despite recent progress in understanding the folding motifs of chromatin, the higher-order structure still remains elusive. Various experimental studies reveal a tight connection between genome folding and function. Chromosomes fold into a confined subspace of the nucleus and form distinct territories. Chromatin looping seems to play a dominant role both in transcriptional regulation as well as in chromatin organization and has been assumed to be mediated by long-range interactions in many polymer models. However, it remains a crucial question which mechanisms are necessary to make two chromatin regions become co-located, i.e. have them in spatial proximity. We demonstrate that the formation of loops can be accomplished solely on the basis of diffusional motion. The probabilistic nature of temporary contacts mimics the effects of proteins, e.g. transcription factors, in the solvent. We establish testable quantitative predictions by deriving scale-independent measures for comparison to experimental data. In this Dynamic Loop (DL) model, the co-localization probability of distant elements is strongly increased compared to linear non-looping chains. The model correctly describes folding into a confined space as well as the experimentally observed cell-to-cell variation. Most importantly, at biological densities, model chromosomes occupy distinct territories showing less inter-chromosomal contacts than linear chains. Thus, dynamic diffusion-based looping, i.e. gene co-localization, provides a consistent framework for chromatin organization in eukaryotic interphase nuclei.
Project description:The architecture of higher-order chromatin in eukaryotic cell nuclei is largely unknown. Here, we use electron microscopy-assisted nucleosome interaction capture (EMANIC) cross-linking experiments in combination with mesoscale chromatin modeling of 96-nucleosome arrays to investigate the internal organization of condensed chromatin in interphase cell nuclei and metaphase chromosomes at nucleosomal resolution. The combined data suggest a novel hierarchical looping model for chromatin higher-order folding, similar to rope flaking used in mountain climbing and rappelling. Not only does such packing help to avoid tangling and self-crossing, it also facilitates rope unraveling. Hierarchical looping is characterized by an increased frequency of higher-order internucleosome contacts for metaphase chromosomes compared with chromatin fibers in vitro and interphase chromatin, with preservation of a dominant two-start zigzag organization associated with the 30-nm fiber. Moreover, the strong dependence of looping on linker histone concentration suggests a hierarchical self-association mechanism of relaxed nucleosome zigzag chains rather than longitudinal compaction as seen in 30-nm fibers. Specifically, concentrations lower than one linker histone per nucleosome promote self-associations and formation of these looped networks of zigzag fibers. The combined experimental and modeling evidence for condensed metaphase chromatin as hierarchical loops and bundles of relaxed zigzag nucleosomal chains rather than randomly coiled threads or straight and stiff helical fibers reconciles aspects of other models for higher-order chromatin structure; it constitutes not only an efficient storage form for the genomic material, consistent with other genome-wide chromosome conformation studies that emphasize looping, but also a convenient organization for local DNA unraveling and genome access.
Project description:Folding of the chromosomal fibre in interphase nuclei is an important element in the regulation of gene expression. For instance, physical contacts between promoters and enhancers are a key element in cell-type-specific transcription. We know remarkably little about the principles that control chromosome folding. Here we explore the view that intrachromosomal interactions, forming a complex pattern of loops, are a key element in chromosome folding. CTCF and cohesin are two abundant looping proteins of interphase chromosomes of higher eukaryotes. To investigate the role of looping in large-scale (supra Mb) folding of human chromosomes, we knocked down the gene that codes for CTCF and the one coding for Rad21, an essential subunit of cohesin. We measured the effect on chromosome folding using systematic 3D fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). Results show that chromatin becomes more compact after reducing the concentration of these two looping proteins. The molecular basis for this counter-intuitive behaviour is explored by polymer modelling usingy the Dynamic Loop model (Bohn M, Heermann DW (2010) Diffusion-driven looping provides a consistent framework for chromatin organization. PLoS ONE 5: e12218.). We show that compaction can be explained by selectively decreasing the number of short-range loops, leaving long-range looping unchanged. In support of this model prediction it has recently been shown by others that CTCF and cohesin indeed are responsible primarily for short-range looping. Our results suggest that the local and the overall changes in of chromosome structure are controlled by a delicate balance between short-range and long-range loops, allowing easy switching between, for instance, open and more compact chromatin states.
Project description:Despite the distinctive structure of mitotic chromosomes, it has not been possible to visualise individual chromosomes in living interphase cells, where chromosomes spend over 90% of their time. Studies of interphase chromosome structure and dynamics use fluorescence in-situ hybridisation (FISH) on fixed cells, which potentially damages structure and loses dynamic information. We have developed a new methodology, involving photoactivation of labelled histone H3 at mitosis, to visualise individual and specific human chromosomes in living interphase cells. Our data revealed bulk chromosome volume and morphology are established rapidly after mitosis, changing only incrementally after the first hour of G1. This contrasted with the behaviour of specific loci on labelled chromosomes, which showed more progressive reorganisation, and revealed that "looping out" of chromatin from chromosome territories is a dynamic state. We measured considerable heterogeneity in chromosome decondensation, even between sister chromatids, which may reflect local structural impediments to decondensation and could potentially amplify transcriptional noise. Chromosome structure showed tremendous resistance to inhibitors of transcription, histone deacetylation and chromatin remodelling. Together, these data indicate steric constraints determine structure, rather than innate chromosome architecture or function-driven anchoring, with interphase chromatin organisation governed primarily by opposition between needs for decondensation and the space available for this to happen.
Project description:In vivo, the human genome folds into a characteristic ensemble of 3D structures. The mechanism driving the folding process remains unknown. We report a theoretical model for chromatin (Minimal Chromatin Model) that explains the folding of interphase chromosomes and generates chromosome conformations consistent with experimental data. The energy landscape of the model was derived by using the maximum entropy principle and relies on two experimentally derived inputs: a classification of loci into chromatin types and a catalog of the positions of chromatin loops. First, we trained our energy function using the Hi-C contact map of chromosome 10 from human GM12878 lymphoblastoid cells. Then, we used the model to perform molecular dynamics simulations producing an ensemble of 3D structures for all GM12878 autosomes. Finally, we used these 3D structures to generate contact maps. We found that simulated contact maps closely agree with experimental results for all GM12878 autosomes. The ensemble of structures resulting from these simulations exhibited unknotted chromosomes, phase separation of chromatin types, and a tendency for open chromatin to lie at the periphery of chromosome territories.
Project description:Eukaryotic genome is organized in a set of chromosomes each of which consists of a chain of DNA and associated proteins. Processes involving DNA such as transcription, duplication, and repair, therefore, should be intrinsically related to the three-dimensional organization of the genome. In this article, we develop a computational model of the three-dimensional organization of the haploid genome of interphase budding yeast by regarding chromosomes as chains moving under the constraints of nuclear structure and chromatin-chromatin interactions. The simulated genome structure largely fluctuates with the diffusive movement of chromosomes. This fluctuation, however, is not completely random, as parts of chromosomes distribute in characteristic ways to form "territories" in the nucleus. By suitably taking account of constraints arising from the data of the chromosome-conformation-capture measurement, the model explains the observed fluorescence data of chromosome distributions and motions.
Project description:Layered on top of information conveyed by DNA sequence and chromatin are higher order structures that encompass portions of chromosomes, entire chromosomes, and even whole genomes. Interphase chromosomes are not positioned randomly within the nucleus, but instead adopt preferred conformations. Disparate DNA elements co-localize into functionally defined aggregates or 'factories' for transcription and DNA replication. In budding yeast, Drosophila and many other eukaryotes, chromosomes adopt a Rabl configuration, with arms extending from centromeres adjacent to the spindle pole body to telomeres that abut the nuclear envelope. Nonetheless, the topologies and spatial relationships of chromosomes remain poorly understood. Here we developed a method to globally capture intra- and inter-chromosomal interactions, and applied it to generate a map at kilobase resolution of the haploid genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The map recapitulates known features of genome organization, thereby validating the method, and identifies new features. Extensive regional and higher order folding of individual chromosomes is observed. Chromosome XII exhibits a striking conformation that implicates the nucleolus as a formidable barrier to interaction between DNA sequences at either end. Inter-chromosomal contacts are anchored by centromeres and include interactions among transfer RNA genes, among origins of early DNA replication and among sites where chromosomal breakpoints occur. Finally, we constructed a three-dimensional model of the yeast genome. Our findings provide a glimpse of the interface between the form and function of a eukaryotic genome.
Project description:In mammalian interphase nuclei, more than one thousand large genomic regions are positioned at the nuclear lamina (NL). These lamina-associated domains (LADs) are involved in gene regulation and may provide a backbone for the folding of interphase chromosomes. Little is known about the dynamics of LADs during interphase, in particular at the onset of G1 phase and during DNA replication. We developed an antibody-based variant of the DamID technology (named pA-DamID) that allows us to map and visualize genome-NL interactions with high temporal resolution. Application of pA-DamID combined with synchronization and cell sorting experiments reveals that LAD-NL contacts are generally rapidly established early in G1 phase. However, LADs on the distal ~25 Mb of most chromosomes tend to contact the NL first and then gradually detach, while centromere-proximal LADs accumulate gradually at the NL. Furthermore, our data indicate that S-phase chromatin shows transiently increased lamin interactions. These findings highlight a dynamic choreography of LAD-NL contacts during interphase progression and illustrate the usefulness of pA-DamID to study the dynamics of genome compartmentalization.
Project description:Eukaryotic genomes are folded into a hierarchy of three-dimensional structures that impact nuclear functions, including transcription, replication, and repair1-3. Studies in Drosophila and mammals have revealed megabase-sized topologically associated domains (TADs) within chromosomes, which in turn are spatially restricted within the nucleus4-8. However, little is known about local physical constraints that drive higher-order folding of chromosomes. Here we performed Hi-C analysis of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe to explore genome organization at high resolution. S. pombe comprises a small genome ideal for examining structural features of chromatin folding, and contains fundamental components present in higher eukaryotes. Large domains of heterochromatin coat centromeres and telomeres and recruit cohesin, a ring-like protein complex that binds sister chromatids and mediates long range looping of interphase chromosomes. Our analyses reveal a highly ordered chromosome organization, consistent with a Rabl configuration, which is dependent on constraints imposed at centromeres and telomeres. We find that local chromatin compaction and cohesin recruitment to centromeres mediated by heterochromatin is required for maintaining global genome territorial restraint. In addition to larger complex domains, we also observed locally interacting regions of chromatin ~50 kilobases long, which organize chromosome arms into structures referred to as “globules”. Globule boundaries are enriched in cohesin and convergent gene orientation. The role of cohesin in maintaining globule domains is independent of its role in sister chromatid cohesion, as globule domains are also a feature of G1 chromosome architecture. Defect in cohesin disrupts globule domains and results in an altered chromosome organization at larger scales, including the loss of chromosome territories. Disruption of globules also affects functional annotation of the genome, leading to impairment of borders between neighboring transcriptional units. Our analyses reveal key features of chromatin organization and folding and show that distinct mechanisms uniquely impact the hierarchy of genome organization to protect genome integrity and to coordinate nuclear functions. Comparison of HiC contact maps under various conditions reveal fundamental principles of genome organization
Project description:Genome function in higher eukaryotes involves major changes in the spatial organization of the chromatin fiber. Nevertheless, our understanding of chromatin folding is remarkably limited. Polymer models have been used to describe chromatin folding. However, none of the proposed models gives a satisfactory explanation of experimental data. In particularly, they ignore that each chromosome occupies a confined space, i.e., the chromosome territory. Here, we present a polymer model that is able to describe key properties of chromatin over length scales ranging from 0.5 to 75 Mb. This random loop (RL) model assumes a self-avoiding random walk folding of the polymer backbone and defines a probability P for 2 monomers to interact, creating loops of a broad size range. Model predictions are compared with systematic measurements of chromatin folding of the q-arms of chromosomes 1 and 11. The RL model can explain our observed data and suggests that on the tens-of-megabases length scale P is small, i.e., 10-30 loops per 100 Mb. This is sufficient to enforce folding inside the confined space of a chromosome territory. On the 0.5- to 3-Mb length scale chromatin compaction differs in different subchromosomal domains. This aspect of chromatin structure is incorporated in the RL model by introducing heterogeneity along the fiber contour length due to different local looping probabilities. The RL model creates a quantitative and predictive framework for the identification of nuclear components that are responsible for chromatin-chromatin interactions and determine the 3-dimensional organization of the chromatin fiber.
Project description:Chromatin undergoes dramatic condensation and decondensation as cells transition between the different phases of the cell cycle. The organization of chromatin in chromosomes is still one of the key challenges in structural biology. Fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), a technique which utilizes a fluorophore's fluorescence lifetime to probe changes in its environment, was used to investigate variations in chromatin compaction in fixed human chromosomes. Fixed human metaphase and interphase chromosomes were labeled with the DNA minor groove binder, DAPI, followed by measurement and imaging of the fluorescence lifetime using multiphoton excitation. DAPI lifetime variations in metaphase chromosome spreads allowed mapping of the differentially compacted regions of chromatin along the length of the chromosomes. The heteromorphic regions of chromosomes 1, 9, 15, 16, and Y, which consist of highly condensed constitutive heterochromatin, showed statistically significant shorter DAPI lifetime values than the rest of the chromosomes. Differences in the DAPI lifetimes for the heteromorphic regions suggest differences in the structures of these regions. DAPI lifetime variations across interphase nuclei showed variation in chromatin compaction in interphase and the formation of chromosome territories. The successful probing of differences in chromatin compaction suggests that FLIM has enormous potential for application in structural and diagnostic studies.