Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The large-scale stability of chromosomes


Even with 'mixed fibers' chromatin does not change its 3-D structure

"Interphase" refers to the period in the cell cycle in which chromosomes spend most of their time. During this phase, in between mitoses, chromosomes live "dissolved'' in the nucleus where they carry out the processes required for the duplication of genetic material.


Credit: SISSA

Our current knowledge regarding the behaviour of chromosomes during interphase is unfortunately quite limited; for example, we would need to know more about the three-dimensional structure of the chromatin filament - the long molecule that makes up the chromosomes and that consists of DNA and other proteins - and how it changes in time and space. The shape of the chromosome is in fact important for its function as it allows or prevents access to portions of genetic code for the duplication processes.

In addition to experimental observation, another important method of study is computer simulation, based on theoretical models of chromatin. A new study has extended work done previously, which used a simpler model of chromatin consisting up of a single fibre.

In the new study, the filament could be made up of two types of fibre, one thicker and one thinner, in varying proportions. Experimental studies have indeed demonstrated the existence of two main types of chromatin, with thicknesses of 10 or 30 nm.

In the study, the scientists made molecular dynamics simulations for model chromosomes in various conditions: they added increasingly large amounts of 10 nm fibre to the homopolymer chromatin, consisting of the stiffer 30 nm fibre only.

The model used in the new study, while a simplification of the real molecule, makes the simulation more realistic. The aim of the study was to evaluate whether small-scale modifications in the chromatin fibre lead to large-scale changes in the behavior of the chromosome.

"Even after the introduction of the more flexible second fibre, the chromosome remains spatially stable" explains Ana-Maria Florescu, first author of the study and SISSA research scientist. "More in detail", adds Angelo Rosa, SISSA research fellow who coordinated the work, "we found that reorganization occurs only on spatial scales below 0.1 Mbp (million base pairs) and on time scales shorter than a few seconds".

One significant implication of this study concerns the techniques used for the experimental observation of the fibres: those most commonly used today have inadequate resolution to be able to observe this type of reorganization, so we aim to develop new methodologies (like the FISH technique based on oligonucleotides) able to visualize even genome distances smaller than 0.1 Mbp.

Media Contact

Federica Sgorbissa


Federica Sgorbissa | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>