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Repulsive Forces Between Looping Chromosomes Induce Entropy-Driven Segregation

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posted on 04.01.2011, 02:41 authored by Manfred Bohn, Dieter W. Heermann

One striking feature of chromatin organization is that chromosomes are compartmentalized into distinct territories during interphase, the degree of intermingling being much smaller than expected for linear chains. A growing body of evidence indicates that the formation of loops plays a dominant role in transcriptional regulation as well as the entropic organization of interphase chromosomes. Using a recently proposed model, we quantitatively determine the entropic forces between chromosomes. This Dynamic Loop Model assumes that loops form solely on the basis of diffusional motion without invoking other long-range interactions. We find that introducing loops into the structure of chromatin results in a multi-fold higher repulsion between chromosomes compared to linear chains. Strong effects are observed for the tendency of a non-random alignment; the overlap volume between chromosomes decays fast with increasing loop number. Our results suggest that the formation of chromatin loops imposes both compartmentalization as well as order on the system without requiring additional energy-consuming processes.

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