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Mol Cell. 2016 Jun 2;62(5):668-80. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2016.05.018.

Chromatin Domains: The Unit of Chromosome Organization.

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Peptide Biology Lab and the Helmsley Center for Genomic Medicine, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. Electronic address:
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0653, USA.
Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0653, USA; University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Institute of Genomic Medicine, and Moores Cancer Center, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0653, USA. Electronic address:


How eukaryotic chromosomes fold inside the nucleus is an age-old question that remains unanswered today. Early biochemical and microscopic studies revealed the existence of chromatin domains and loops as a pervasive feature of interphase chromosomes, but the biological implications of such organizational features were obscure. Genome-wide analysis of pair-wise chromatin interactions using chromatin conformation capture (3C)-based techniques has shed new light on the organization of chromosomes in interphase nuclei. Particularly, the finding of cell-type invariant, evolutionarily conserved topologically associating domains (TADs) in a broad spectrum of cell types has provided a new molecular framework for the study of animal development and human diseases. Here, we review recent progress in characterization of such chromatin domains and delineation of mechanisms of their formation in animal cells.

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