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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Jun;1819(6):468-81. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2011.12.010. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Nuclear organization and chromatin dynamics in yeast: biophysical models or biologically driven interactions?

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  • 1LBME du CNRS, France.


Over the past decade, tremendous progress has been made in understanding the spatial organization of genes and chromosomes. Nuclear organization can be thought of as information that is not encoded in DNA, but which nevertheless impacts gene expression. Nuclear organizational influences can be cell-specific and are potentially heritable. Thus, nuclear organization fulfills all the criteria necessary for it to be considered an authentic level of epigenetic information. Chromosomal nuclear organization is primarily dictated by the biophysical properties of chromatin. Diffusion models of polymers confined in the crowded nuclear space accurately recapitulate experimental observation. Diffusion is a Brownian process, which implies that the positions of chromosomes and genes are not defined deterministically but are likely to be dictated by the laws of probability. Despite the small size of their nuclei, budding yeast have been instrumental in discovering how epigenetic information is encoded in the spatial organization of the genome. The relatively simple organization of the yeast nucleus and the very high number of genetically identical cells that can be observed under fluorescent microscopy allow statistically robust definitions of the gene and chromosome positions in the nuclear space to be constructed. In this review, we will focus on how the spatial organization of the chromatin in the yeast nucleus might impact transcription. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Nuclear Transport and RNA Processing.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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