Cytology of DNA Replication Reveals Dynamic Plasticity of Large-Scale Chromatin Fibers

Xiang Deng, Oxana A. Zhironkina, Varvara D. Cherepanynets, Olga S. Strelkova, Igor I. Kireev, Andrew S. Belmont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In higher eukaryotic interphase nuclei, the 100- to >1,000-fold linear compaction of chromatin is difficult to reconcile with its function as a template for transcription, replication, and repair. It is challenging to imagine how DNA and RNA polymerases with their associated molecular machinery would move along the DNA template without transient decondensation of observed large-scale chromatin “chromonema” fibers [1]. Transcription or “replication factory” models [2], in which polymerases remain fixed while DNA is reeled through, are similarly difficult to conceptualize without transient decondensation of these chromonema fibers. Here, we show how a dynamic plasticity of chromatin folding within large-scale chromatin fibers allows DNA replication to take place without significant changes in the global large-scale chromatin compaction or shape of these large-scale chromatin fibers. Time-lapse imaging of lac-operator-tagged chromosome regions shows no major change in the overall compaction of these chromosome regions during their DNA replication. Improved pulse-chase labeling of endogenous interphase chromosomes yields a model in which the global compaction and shape of large-Mbp chromatin domains remains largely invariant during DNA replication, with DNA within these domains undergoing significant movements and redistribution as they move into and then out of adjacent replication foci. In contrast to hierarchical folding models, this dynamic plasticity of large-scale chromatin organization explains how localized changes in DNA topology allow DNA replication to take place without an accompanying global unfolding of large-scale chromatin fibers while suggesting a possible mechanism for maintaining epigenetic programming of large-scale chromatin domains throughout DNA replication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2527-2534
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 26 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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