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Trends Genet. 2007 Mar;23(3):126-33. Epub 2007 Feb 5.

What are the molecular ties that maintain genomic loops?

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  • 1School of Physics, University of Edinburgh, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh, UK.


The formation of genomic loops by proteins bound at sites scattered along a chromosome has a central role in many cellular processes, such as transcription, recombination and replication. Until recently, few such loops had been analyzed in any detail, and there was little agreement about the nature of the molecular ties maintaining these loops. Recent evidence suggests that loops are found in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and that the transcription machinery is a molecular tie. In addition, results obtained using site-specific recombination in bacteria and chromosome conformation capture in eukaryotes support the idea that active transcription units are in close contact. These data are consistent with a model for genome organization in which active polymerases cluster into transcription 'factories', which, inevitably, loops the intervening DNA. They are also consistent with the ties functioning as barriers, silencers, enhancers or locus control regions, depending on their positions relative to other genes.

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