Most people are familiar with the well-known ‘X’ shape of chromosomes, but in fact chromosomes only take on this shape when the cell divides. Using their new approach, the researchers have now been able to determine the structures of active chromosomes inside the cell, and how they interact with each other to form an intact genome. This is important because knowledge of the way DNA folds inside the cell allows scientists to study how specific genes, and the DNA regions that control them, interact with each other. The genome’s structure controls when and how strongly genes — particular regions of the DNA — are switched ‘on’ or ‘off’. This plays a critical role in the development of organisms and also, when it goes awry, in disease.Paper. (paywall) – Stevens, TJ et al. 3D structures of individual mammalian genomes studied by single-cell Hi-C. Nature, 3 March 2017 DOI: 10.1038/nature21429More.
It also makes it easier to discuss genetics in a non-reductive way.
See also: Cod gene puzzle: At least no one is claiming it is “junk DNA”
Follow UD News at Twitter!