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Polymer coil–globule phase transition is a universal folding principle of Drosophila epigenetic domains

Abstract : Background Localized functional domains within chromosomes, known as topologically associating domains (TADs), have been recently highlighted. In Drosophila, TADs are biochemically defined by epigenetic marks, this suggesting that the 3D arrangement may be the “missing link” between epigenetics and gene activity. Recent observations (Boettiger et al. in Nature 529(7586):418–422, 2016) provide access to structural features of these domains with unprecedented resolution thanks to super-resolution experiments. In particular, they give access to the distribution of the radii of gyration for domains of different linear length and associated with different transcriptional activity states: active, inactive or repressed. Intriguingly, the observed scaling laws lack consistent interpretation in polymer physics. Results We develop a new methodology conceived to extract the best information from such super-resolution data by exploiting the whole distribution of gyration radii, and to place these experimental results on a theoretical framework. We show that the experimental data are compatible with the finite-size behavior of a self-attracting polymer. The same generic polymer model leads to quantitative differences between active, inactive and repressed domains. Active domains behave as pure polymer coils, while inactive and repressed domains both lie at the coil–globule crossover. For the first time, the “color-specificity” of both the persistence length and the mean interaction energy are estimated, leading to important differences between epigenetic states. Conclusion These results point toward a crucial role of criticality to enhance the system responsivity, resulting in both energy transitions and structural rearrangements. We get strong indications that epigenetically induced changes in nucleosome–nucleosome interaction can cause chromatin to shift between different activity states.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 2:23:09 PM
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Antony Lesage, Vincent Dahirel, Jean-Marc Victor, Maria Barbi. Polymer coil–globule phase transition is a universal folding principle of Drosophila epigenetic domains. Epigenetics & Chromatin, BioMed Central, 2019, 12 (1), ⟨10.1186/s13072-019-0269-6⟩. ⟨hal-02147100⟩



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