A revised model for promoter competition based on multi-way chromatin interactions at the α-globin locus

Nat Commun. 2019 Nov 27;10(1):5412. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13404-x.


Specific communication between gene promoters and enhancers is critical for accurate regulation of gene expression. However, it remains unclear how specific interactions between multiple regulatory elements contained within a single chromatin domain are coordinated. Recent technological advances which can detect multi-way chromatin interactions at single alleles can provide insights into how multiple regulatory elements cooperate or compete for transcriptional activation. Here, we use such an approach to investigate how interactions of the α-globin enhancers are distributed between multiple promoters in a mouse model in which the α-globin domain is extended to include several additional genes. Our data show that gene promoters do not form mutually exclusive interactions with enhancers, but all interact simultaneously in a single complex. These findings suggest that promoters do not structurally compete for interactions with enhancers, but form a regulatory hub structure, which is consistent with recent models of transcriptional activation occurring in non-membrane bound nuclear compartments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Female
  • Genetic Loci
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Models, Genetic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • alpha-Globins / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Rhbdf1 protein, mouse
  • alpha-Globins