Modulated contact frequencies at gene-rich loci support a statistical helix model for mammalian chromatin organization.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Despite its critical role for mammalian gene regulation, the basic structural landscape of chromatin in living cells remains largely unknown within chromosomal territories below the megabase scale. RESULTS: Here, using the 3C-qPCR method, we investigate contact frequencies at high resolution within interphase chromatin at several mouse loci. We find that, at several gene-rich loci, contact frequencies undergo a periodical modulation (every 90 to 100 kb) that affects chromatin dynamics over large genomic distances (a few hundred kilobases). Interestingly, this modulation appears to be conserved in human cells, and bioinformatic analyses of locus-specific, long-range cis-interactions suggest that it may underlie the dynamics of a significant number of gene-rich domains in mammals, thus contributing to genome evolution. Finally, using an original model derived from polymer physics, we show that this modulation can be understood as a fundamental helix shape that chromatin tends to adopt in gene-rich domains when no significant locus-specific interaction takes place. CONCLUSIONS: Altogether, our work unveils a fundamental aspect of chromatin dynamics in mammals and contributes to a better understanding of genome organization within chromosomal territories.
Project description:Animal genomes fold into contact domains defined by enhanced internal contact frequencies with debated functions in establishing independent gene regulatory domains. A large fraction of contact domains in mammals are formed by stalling of chromosomal loop-extruding cohesin by CTCF at domain boundaries. 90% of domain boundaries in Drosophila form CTCF-independently, and other proteins were proposed to form chromosomal loops with dual functions of segregating promoters from inappropriate regulatory elements and connecting distal regulatory elements to their correct targets. Here, we genetically ablate the ubiquitous boundary-associated factor Cp190 and assess impacts on genome folding and transcriptional regulation in embryos. Our results reveal that Cp190 is a major factor required for contact domain boundary formation and gene insulation in Drosophila.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Local higher-order chromatin structure, dynamics and composition of the DNA are known to determine double-strand break frequencies and the efficiency of repair. However, how DNA damage response affects the spatial organization of chromosome territories is still unexplored. RESULTS: Our report investigates the effect of DNA damage on the spatial organization of chromosome territories within interphase nuclei of human cells. We show that DNA damage induces a large-scale spatial repositioning of chromosome territories that are relatively gene dense. This response is dose dependent, and involves territories moving from the nuclear interior to the periphery and vice versa. Furthermore, we have found that chromosome territory repositioning is contingent upon double-strand break recognition and damage sensing. Importantly, our results suggest that this is a reversible process where, following repair, chromosome territories re-occupy positions similar to those in undamaged control cells. CONCLUSIONS: Thus, our report for the first time highlights DNA damage-dependent spatial reorganization of whole chromosomes, which might be an integral aspect of cellular damage response.
Project description:Chromosomal translocations are frequent features of cancer genomes that contribute to disease progression. These rearrangements result from formation and illegitimate repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), a process that requires spatial colocalization of chromosomal breakpoints. The "contact first" hypothesis suggests that translocation partners colocalize in the nuclei of normal cells, prior to rearrangement. It is unclear, however, the extent to which spatial interactions based on three-dimensional genome architecture contribute to chromosomal rearrangements in human disease. Here we intersect Hi-C maps of three-dimensional chromosome conformation with collections of 1,533 chromosomal translocations from cancer and germline genomes. We show that many translocation-prone pairs of regions genome-wide, including the cancer translocation partners BCR-ABL and MYC-IGH, display elevated Hi-C contact frequencies in normal human cells. Considering tissue specificity, we find that translocation breakpoints reported in human hematologic malignancies have higher Hi-C contact frequencies in lymphoid cells than those reported in sarcomas and epithelial tumors. However, translocations from multiple tissue types show significant correlation with Hi-C contact frequencies, suggesting that both tissue-specific and universal features of chromatin structure contribute to chromosomal alterations. Our results demonstrate that three-dimensional genome architecture shapes the landscape of rearrangements directly observed in human disease and establish Hi-C as a key method for dissecting these effects.
Project description:Mounting experimental evidence suggests a role for the spatial organization of chromatin in crucial processes of the cell nucleus such as transcription regulation. Chromosome conformation capture techniques allow us to characterize chromatin structure by mapping contacts between chromosomal loci on a genome-wide scale. The most widespread modality is to measure contact frequencies averaged over a population of cells. Single-cell variants exist, but suffer from low contact numbers and have not yet gained the same resolution as population methods. While intriguing biological insights have already been garnered from ensemble-averaged data, information about three-dimensional (3D) genome organization in the underlying individual cells remains largely obscured because the contact maps show only an average over a huge population of cells. Moreover, computational methods for structure modeling of chromatin have mostly focused on fitting a single consensus structure, thereby ignoring any cell-to-cell variability in the model itself. Here, we propose a fully Bayesian method to infer ensembles of chromatin structures and to determine the optimal number of states in a principled, objective way. We illustrate our approach on simulated data and compute multistate models of chromatin from chromosome conformation capture carbon copy (5C) data. Comparison with independent data suggests that the inferred ensembles represent the underlying sample population faithfully. Harnessing the rich information contained in multistate models, we investigate cell-to-cell variability of chromatin organization into topologically associating domains, thus highlighting the ability of our approach to deliver insights into chromatin organization of great biological relevance.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Between cell divisions the chromatin fiber of each chromosome is restricted to a subvolume of the interphase cell nucleus called chromosome territory. The internal organization of these chromosome territories is still largely unknown. RESULTS: We compared the large-scale chromatin structure of chromosome territories between several hematopoietic chicken cell types at various differentiation stages. Chromosome territories were labeled by fluorescence in situ hybridization in structurally preserved nuclei, recorded by confocal microscopy and evaluated visually and by quantitative image analysis. Chromosome territories in multipotent myeloid precursor cells appeared homogeneously stained and compact. The inactive lysozyme gene as well as the centromere of the lysozyme gene harboring chromosome located to the interior of the chromosome territory. In further differentiated cell types such as myeloblasts, macrophages and erythroblasts chromosome territories appeared increasingly diffuse, disaggregating to separable substructures. The lysozyme gene, which is gradually activated during the differentiation to activated macrophages, as well as the centromere were relocated increasingly to more external positions. CONCLUSIONS: Our results reveal a cell type specific constitution of chromosome territories. The data suggest that a repositioning of chromosomal loci during differentiation may be a consequence of general changes in chromosome territory morphology, not necessarily related to transcriptional changes.
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:Using numerical simulations, we investigate the underlying physical effects responsible for the overall organization of chromosomal territories in interphase nuclei. In particular, we address the following three questions: (i) why are chromosomal territories with relatively high transcriptional activity on average, closer to the centre of cell's nucleus than those with the lower activity? (ii) Why are actively transcribed genes usually located at the periphery of their chromosomal territories? (iii) Why are pair-wise contacts between active and inactive genes less frequent than those involving only active or only inactive genes? We show that transcription factories-mediated contacts between active genes belonging to different chromosomal territories are instrumental for all these features of nuclear organization to emerge spontaneously due to entropic effects arising when chromatin fibres are highly crowded.
Project description:The recent advent of conformation capture techniques has provided unprecedented insights into the spatial organization of chromatin. We present a large-scale investigation of the inter-chromosomal segment and gene contact networks in embryonic stem cells of two mammalian organisms: humans and mice. Both interaction networks are characterized by a high degree of clustering of genome regions and the existence of hubs. Both genomes exhibit similar structural characteristics such as increased flexibility of certain Y chromosome regions and co-localization of centromere-proximal regions. Spatial proximity is correlated with the functional similarity of genes in both species. We also found a significant association between spatial proximity and the co-expression of genes in the human genome. The structural properties of chromatin are also species specific, including the presence of two highly interactive regions in mouse chromatin and an increased contact density on short, gene-rich human chromosomes, thereby indicating their central nuclear position. Trans-interacting segments are enriched in active marks in human and had no distinct feature profile in mouse. Thus, in contrast to interactions within individual chromosomes, the inter-chromosomal interactions in human and mouse embryonic stem cells do not appear to be conserved.
Project description:The nuclear space is mostly occupied by chromosome territories and nuclear bodies. Although this organization of chromosomes affects gene function, relatively little is known about the role of nuclear bodies in the organization of chromosomal regions. The nucleolus is the best-studied subnuclear structure and forms around the rRNA repeat gene clusters on the acrocentric chromosomes. In addition to rDNA, other chromatin sequences also surround the nucleolar surface and may even loop into the nucleolus. These additional nucleolar-associated domains (NADs) have not been well characterized. We present here a whole-genome, high-resolution analysis of chromatin endogenously associated with nucleoli. We have used a combination of three complementary approaches, namely fluorescence comparative genome hybridization, high-throughput deep DNA sequencing and photoactivation combined with time-lapse fluorescence microscopy. The data show that specific sequences from most human chromosomes, in addition to the rDNA repeat units, associate with nucleoli in a reproducible and heritable manner. NADs have in common a high density of AT-rich sequence elements, low gene density and a statistically significant enrichment in transcriptionally repressed genes. Unexpectedly, both the direct DNA sequencing and fluorescence photoactivation data show that certain chromatin loci can specifically associate with either the nucleolus, or the nuclear envelope.
Project description:Chromatin organization has been increasingly studied in relation with its important influence on DNA-related metabolic processes such as replication or regulation of gene expression. Since its original design ten years ago, capture of chromosome conformation (3C) has become an essential tool to investigate the overall conformation of chromosomes. It relies on the capture of long-range trans and cis interactions of chromosomal segments whose relative proportions in the final bank reflect their frequencies of interactions, hence their spatial proximity in a population of cells. The recent coupling of 3C with deep sequencing approaches now allows the generation of high resolution genome-wide chromosomal contact maps. Different protocols have been used to generate such maps in various organisms. This includes mammals, drosophila and yeast. The massive amount of raw data generated by the genomic 3C has to be carefully processed to alleviate the various biases and byproducts generated by the experiments. Our study aims at proposing a simple normalization procedure to minimize the influence of these unwanted but inevitable events on the final results.Careful analysis of the raw data generated previously for budding yeast S. cerevisiae led to the identification of three main biases affecting the final datasets, including a previously unknown bias resulting from the circularization of DNA molecules. We then developed a simple normalization procedure to process the data and allow the generation of a normalized, highly contrasted, chromosomal contact map for S. cerevisiae. The same method was then extended to the first human genome contact map. Using the normalized data, we revisited the preferential interactions originally described between subsets of discrete chromosomal features. Notably, the detection of preferential interactions between tRNA in yeast and CTCF, PolII binding sites in human can vary with the normalization procedure used.We quantitatively reanalyzed the genomic 3C data obtained for S. cerevisiae, identified some of the biases inherent to the technique and proposed a simple normalization procedure to analyse them. Such an approach can be easily generalized for genomic 3C experiments in other organisms. More experiments and analysis will be necessary to reach optimal resolution and accuracies of the maps generated through these approaches. Working with cell population presenting highest levels of homogeneity will prove useful in this regards.