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Annu Rev Genet. 2004;38:305-45.

The function of nuclear architecture: a genetic approach.

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1
University of Geneva, Department of Molecular Biology, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.

Abstract

Eukaryotic genomes are distributed on linear chromosomes that are grouped together in the nucleus, an organelle separated from the cytoplasm by a characteristic double membrane studded with large proteinaceous pores. The chromatin within chromosomes has an as yet poorly characterized higher-order structure, but in addition to this, chromosomes and specific subchromosomal domains are nonrandomly positioned in nuclei. This review examines functional implications of the long-range organization of the genome in interphase nuclei. A rigorous test of the physiological importance of nuclear architecture is achieved by introducing mutations that compromise both structure and function. Focussing on such genetic approaches, we address general concepts of interphase nuclear order, the role of the nuclear envelope (NE) and lamins, and finally the importance of spatial organization for DNA replication and heritable gene expression.

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