Three-dimensional folding and functional organization principles of the Drosophila genome

Tom SextonGiacomo Cavalli


Chromosomes are the physical realization of genetic information and thus form the basis for its readout and propagation. Here we present a high-resolution chromosomal contact map derived from a modified genome-wide chromosome conformation capture approach applied to Drosophila embryonic nuclei. The data show that the entire genome is linearly partitioned into well-demarcated physical domains that overlap extensively with active and repressive epigenetic marks. Chromosomal contacts are hierarchically organized between domains. Global modeling of contact density and clustering of domains show that inactive domains are condensed and confined to their chromosomal territories, whereas active domains reach out of the territory to form remote intra- and interchromosomal contacts. Moreover, we systematically identify specific long-range intrachromosomal contacts between Polycomb-repressed domains. Together, these observations allow for quantitative prediction of the Drosophila chromosomal contact map, laying the foundation for detailed studies of chromosome structure and function in a genetically tractable system.


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