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Chromosomal organization of transcription: in a nutshell

Meyer, Sam, Reverchon, Sylvie, Nasser, William, Muskhelishvili, Georgi
Current genetics 2018 v.64 no.3 pp. 555-565
DNA, Escherichia coli, gene expression regulation, genes, models, network theory, physics, plant pathogenic bacteria, polymers, topology, transcription (genetics), transcription factors
Early studies of transcriptional regulation focused on individual gene promoters defined specific transcription factors as central agents of genetic control. However, recent genome-wide data propelled a different view by linking spatially organized gene expression patterns to chromosomal dynamics. Therefore, the major problem in contemporary molecular genetics concerned with transcriptional gene regulation is to establish a unifying model that reconciles these two views. This problem, situated at the interface of polymer physics and network theory, requires development of an integrative methodology. In this review, we discuss recent achievements in classical model organism E. coli and provide some novel insights gained from studies of a bacterial plant pathogen, D. dadantii. We consider DNA topology and the basal transcription machinery as key actors of regulation, in which activation of functionally relevant genes is coupled to and coordinated with the establishment of extended chromosomal domains of coherent transcription. We argue that the spatial organization of genome plays a fundamental role in its own regulation.