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Cell. 2016 Mar 10;164(6):1110-1121. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.02.007.

The 3D Genome as Moderator of Chromosomal Communication.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Program in Systems Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 368 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA, 01605-0103, USA. Electronic address:
Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, E25-526C, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address:


Proper expression of genes requires communication with their regulatory elements that can be located elsewhere along the chromosome. The physics of chromatin fibers imposes a range of constraints on such communication. The molecular and biophysical mechanisms by which chromosomal communication is established, or prevented, have become a topic of intense study, and important roles for the spatial organization of chromosomes are being discovered. Here we present a view of the interphase 3D genome characterized by extensive physical compartmentalization and insulation on the one hand and facilitated long-range interactions on the other. We propose the existence of topological machines dedicated to set up and to exploit a 3D genome organization to both promote and censor communication along and between chromosomes.


CTCF; Hi-C; biophysics; cohesin; condensin; domains; enhancer; gene expression; gene regulation; polymers; promoter; simulations

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