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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 2;109(40):16173-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1204799109. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

Complexity of chromatin folding is captured by the strings and binders switch model.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, Università di Napoli Federico II, 80126 Naples, Italy.


Chromatin has a complex spatial organization in the cell nucleus that serves vital functional purposes. A variety of chromatin folding conformations has been detected by single-cell imaging and chromosome conformation capture-based approaches. However, a unified quantitative framework describing spatial chromatin organization is still lacking. Here, we explore the "strings and binders switch" model to explain the origin and variety of chromatin behaviors that coexist and dynamically change within living cells. This simple polymer model recapitulates the scaling properties of chromatin folding reported experimentally in different cellular systems, the fractal state of chromatin, the processes of domain formation, and looping out. Additionally, the strings and binders switch model reproduces the recently proposed "fractal-globule" model, but only as one of many possible transient conformations.

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