The discovery of this new force may implicate the future understanding of genetic diseases that occur due to gene mutations or developmental disorders and cancer.
‘Loops of DNA strands have been pictured at a much higher resolution for the first time with the help of advances in microscopy. This reveals the basic organization of the human genome in three-dimensional space that may help in further understanding genetic diseases.’
The condensed state of the DNA is also known as chromatin. It contains many loops that bring together different regions of the genome through chromatin looping. It is an important phenomenon for transcribing DNA into RNA which then makes proteins that drive human health and disease.
“Chromatin looping is what allows individual cells to switch different information on and off, which is why for example a neuron or a muscle cell with the same genomic information can still behave so differently. Loops are also one of the ways the genome gets compacted to fit into the nucleus,” says Vicky Neguembor, Staff Scientist at the CRG and first author of the paper.
The High Resolution Microscopy
The new technique provides ten times higher resolution than conventional microscopy. This enabled the team to identify chromatin loops and the cohesins that hold the structure together like paper clips, within intact cells.
“What we have found is important because it shows the biological process of transcription plays an additional role beyond its fundamental task of creating RNA that eventually turn into proteins. Transcription indirectly compacts the genome in an efficient manner and helps different regions of the genome talk to each other,” says Vicky Neguembor.