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Nat Genet. 2006 Nov;38(11):1348-54. Epub 2006 Oct 8.

Nuclear organization of active and inactive chromatin domains uncovered by chromosome conformation capture-on-chip (4C).

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Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Erasmus Medical Centre, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


The spatial organization of DNA in the cell nucleus is an emerging key contributor to genomic function. We developed 4C technology (chromosome conformation capture (3C)-on-chip), which allows for an unbiased genome-wide search for DNA loci that contact a given locus in the nuclear space. We demonstrate here that active and inactive genes are engaged in many long-range intrachromosomal interactions and can also form interchromosomal contacts. The active beta-globin locus in fetal liver preferentially contacts transcribed, but not necessarily tissue-specific, loci elsewhere on chromosome 7, whereas the inactive locus in fetal brain contacts different transcriptionally silent loci. A housekeeping gene in a gene-dense region on chromosome 8 forms long-range contacts predominantly with other active gene clusters, both in cis and in trans, and many of these intra- and interchromosomal interactions are conserved between the tissues analyzed. Our data demonstrate that chromosomes fold into areas of active chromatin and areas of inactive chromatin and establish 4C technology as a powerful tool to study nuclear architecture.

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