Are There Knots in Chromosomes?

Polymers (Basel). 2017 Aug 2;9(8):317. doi: 10.3390/polym9080317.


Recent developments have for the first time allowed the determination of three-dimensional structures of individual chromosomes and genomes in nuclei of single haploid mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells based on Hi⁻C chromosome conformation contact data. Although these first structures have a relatively low resolution, they provide the first experimental data that can be used to study chromosome and intact genome folding. Here we further analyze these structures and provide the first evidence that G1 phase chromosomes are knotted, consistent with the fact that plots of contact probability vs sequence separation show a power law dependence that is intermediate between that of a fractal globule and an equilibrium structure.

Keywords: DNA; chromosome territories; chromosomes; fractal globule; knots.