Chromosomal clustering of muscle-expressed genes in Caenorhabditis elegans

Nature. 2002 Aug 29;418(6901):975-9. doi: 10.1038/nature01012.


Chromosomes are divided into domains of open chromatin, where genes have the potential to be expressed, and domains of closed chromatin, where genes are not expressed. Classic examples of open chromatin domains include 'puffs' on polytene chromosomes in Drosophila and extended loops from lampbrush chromosomes. If multiple genes were typically expressed together from a single open chromatin domain, the position of co-expressed genes along the chromosomes would appear clustered. To investigate whether co-expressed genes are clustered, we examined the chromosomal positions of the genes expressed in the muscle of Caenorhabditis elegans at the first larval stage. Here we show that co-expressed genes in C. elegans are clustered in groups of 2-5 along the chromosomes, suggesting that expression from a chromatin domain can extend over several genes. These observations reveal a higher-order organization of the structure of the genome, in which the order of the genes along the chromosome id correlated with their expression in specific tissues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Order / genetics*
  • Multigene Family / genetics*
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Organ Specificity
  • RNA, Helminth / genetics
  • RNA, Helminth / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • RNA, Helminth
  • RNA, Messenger