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Researchers generate first complete 3-D structures of bacterial chromosome
Date:10/21/2011

WORCESTER, Mass. A team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Harvard Medical School, Stanford University and the Prince Felipe Research Centre in Spain have deciphered the complete three-dimensional structure of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus's chromosome. Analysis of the resulting structure published this week in Molecular Cell has revealed new insights into the function of genetic sequences responsible for the shape and structure of this genome.

Scientists know that the three-dimensional shape of a cell's chromosome plays a role in how genetic sequences and genes are regulated. However, technical challenges have limited genome-wide analysis of a chromosome's architecture that would allow for simultaneous identification of the elements involved in shaping it and analysis of specific features of the structure. In this study, researchers used high-throughput chromatin interaction detection; next-generation DNA sequencing; computational modeling; and fluorescent microscopy to build the first 3D model of the architecture of the bacteria's chromosome and analyze the resulting structures. This new experimental approach revealed novel characteristics of a specific genetic sequence called the parS site, which helps to define the chromosome's shape.

"What we've shown is that it's possible to combine molecular biology with 3D modeling technology to perform studies that tell us novel things about how genomes fold and identify the genetic sequences that are responsible." said Job Dekker, PhD, a pioneer in chromosome interaction detection technologies, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and one of the authors on the study.

Dekker and colleagues used "5C" technology to map more than 28,700 contact points in the Caulobacter crescentus's genome and used these contacts to approximate spatial distance in the folded chromosome.
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Contact: Jim Fessenden
james.fessenden@umassmed.edu
508-856-2000
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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