The nuclear lamina, a filamentous protein network that coats the inner nuclear membrane, has long been thought to interact with specific genomic loci and regulate their expression. Molecular mapping studies have now identified large genomic domains that are in contact with the lamina. Genes in these domains are typically repressed, and artificial tethering experiments indicate that the lamina can actively contribute to this repression. Furthermore, the lamina indirectly controls gene expression in the nuclear interior by sequestration of certain transcription factors. A variety of DNA-binding and chromatin proteins may anchor specific loci to the lamina, while histone-modifying enzymes partly mediate the local repressive effect of the lamina. Experimental tools are now available to begin to unravel the underlying molecular mechanisms.
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