The 3D Genome as Moderator of Chromosomal Communication

Cell. 2016 Mar 10;164(6):1110-1121. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.02.007.


Proper expression of genes requires communication with their regulatory elements that can be located elsewhere along the chromosome. The physics of chromatin fibers imposes a range of constraints on such communication. The molecular and biophysical mechanisms by which chromosomal communication is established, or prevented, have become a topic of intense study, and important roles for the spatial organization of chromosomes are being discovered. Here we present a view of the interphase 3D genome characterized by extensive physical compartmentalization and insulation on the one hand and facilitated long-range interactions on the other. We propose the existence of topological machines dedicated to set up and to exploit a 3D genome organization to both promote and censor communication along and between chromosomes.

Keywords: CTCF; Hi-C; biophysics; cohesin; condensin; domains; enhancer; gene expression; gene regulation; polymers; promoter; simulations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • Chromosomes / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genome*
  • Humans
  • Mitosis
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins
  • X Chromosome Inactivation


  • CCCTC-Binding Factor
  • CTCF protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Repressor Proteins
  • condensin complexes
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases