The epidermal differentiation complex (EDC) at 1q21 is host to many structurally and functionally related genes coding for proteins involved in the differentiation process of keratinocytes. The grouping together of these genes which share spatial and temporal expression and interrelated functions is a remarkable genomic feature which has led to suggestions that the region may have a coordinated transcription control mechanism. With the growing awareness that the organization of the genome within the interphase nucleus is relevant to transcriptional activity, we have investigated the spatial organization of the EDC in the nuclei of keratinocytes, where the EDC genes are highly expressed, and lymphoblasts, where they are silent. Using 2D and 3D FISH we find that in keratinocyte nuclei the EDC is frequently positioned external to the chromosome 1 territory compared to lymphoblasts where the EDC more often adopts a peripheral or internal location. It has been previously shown that the MHC region can extend from the chromosome 6 territory in relation to transcriptional activity. This study of the EDC thus provides a further example of a gene-dense complex capable of assuming extraterritorial positioning in relation to cell type/transcription status.
(c)2001 Elsevier Science.