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Authors: Olivares-Chauvet, Pedro and Mukamel, Zohar and Lifshitz, Aviezer and Schwartzman, Omer and Elkayam, Noa Oded and Lubling, Yaniv and Deikus, Gintaras and Sebra, Robert P and Tanay, Amos

Chromosomes are folded into highly compacted structures to accommodate physical constraints within nuclei and to regulate access to genomic information. Recently, global mapping of pairwise contacts showed that loops anchoring topological domains (TADs) are highly conserved between cell types and species. Whether pairwise loops synergize to form higher-order structures is still unclear. Here we develop a conformation capture assay to study higher-order organization using chromosomal walks (C-walks) that link multiple genomic loci together into proximity chains in human and mouse cells. This approach captures chromosomal structure at varying scales. Inter-chromosomal contacts constitute only 7-10% of the pairs and are restricted by interfacing TADs. About half of the C-walks stay within one chromosome, and almost half of those are restricted to intra-TAD spaces. C-walks that couple 2-4 TADs indicate stochastic associations between transcriptionally active, early replicating loci. Targeted analysis of thousands of 3-walks anchored at highly expressed genes support pairwise, rather than hub-like, chromosomal topology at active loci. Polycomb-repressed Hox domains are shown by the same approach to enrich for synergistic hubs. Together, the data indicate that chromosomal territories, TADs, and intra-TAD loops are primarily driven by nested, possibly dynamic, pairwise contacts.

Journal: Nature
DOI: 10.1038/nature20158
Year: 2016

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