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What about an open book-like genome?New research shows the “library system” of cells

Genome movement across the stem cell nucleus (left) and its differentiated progeny (right). Credits: Alexandra Zidowska, Department of Physics, New York University.

The composition of the human genome depends on the physics of various states of matter, such as liquids and solids. Discovered by a team of scientists. Findings that reveal how the physical properties of the genome change as cells change to perform specific functions help to better understand the disease and improve the treatment of cancer and hereditary disorders. It shows new ways that can create a law.


The genome is a library of vital genetic information. Each cell contains the entire library, but uses only part of this information. Only certain “books” are opened in special types of cells, such as white blood cells and neurons. The book contains information related to its features. Researchers have long sought to find out how the genome manages these huge libraries, gives them access to the “books” they need, and stores unused ones.

In a newly published study published in a journal Physical Review Letter, Researchers have shown how this happens inside the cell.

“We found that the used parts of the genome are liquids and the unused parts form solid-like islands,” said an assistant professor at New York University’s Department of Physics and chief of the study. The author, Alexandra Zidowska, explains. “These solid-like islands act as library bookshelves for books containing genes that are not currently in use, and parts of the liquid genome act like” open books “and are easily accessible. Used for cell life and function. “

The genetic information of the genome is encoded in a DNA molecule. Proper reading and processing of this information is important for human health and aging. In human cells, the genome containing the genetic code is housed in the cell nucleus. It stores about 2 meters of DNA at a size of only 10 micrometers, or about one-tenth the width of human hair.

To store such a huge amount of genetic information in such a small space, you need to pack it so that you can easily access each part of DNA, that is, each part of the genetic code, when you need it.

What was not well understood until now is how this information was stored and what role physics played in it.

What about an open book-like genome?New research shows the

Stem cell nuclei (left) and their differentiated progeny (right), and the liquid (green) and gel (magenta) parts of the genome.Credits: Alexandra Zidovska, Department of Physics, NYU

To investigate this phenomenon, researchers, including New York University PhD candidates Iraj Eshghi and Jonah Eaton, compared cells before and after cell specialization.

Specifically, scientists have mapped the movement of the genome in the nucleus of mouse stem cells. Mouse stem cells do not yet have special functions, but any cell type, such as neurons or leukocytes. Ready to become a nerve cell before remapping the movement of the genome. In doing so, they created the first ever map of genomic movement before and after cell differentiation.

Here they found the stem cell Keep the genome “open” and make the “genome page” easily accessible, like an open book.

However, this mapping also showed that when a stem cell becomes a special cell, such as a neuron, the special cell has easy access to only part of the genome needed for that particular function. It cleans up unused parts of the genome on a “bookshelf”. This gives you more space for information that is being actively read and processed.

“These movements show exactly how the genome can be accessed at specific locations in the cell nucleus,” explains Zidovska. In addition, these movements reveal the physical state of different parts of the genome. The liquid portion corresponds to loosely packed DNA and the solid-like portion corresponds to a tightly packed DNA gel. Genome packing in these different states directly affects the state of the genome. Accessibility; Liquid parts are accessible as opposed to solid-like parts. Surprisingly, this tissue relies on the condensed matter physics of various states of liquid and solid. “

“By measuring the movement of different parts of the genome, we were able to show different physical properties of different parts of the genome and understand the composition of the genome, the” library system “of cells,” she said. Adds.

Researchers point out that a proper cell filing system is essential for human health.

“Given the huge number of cell types in the human body, if a book is lost or misplaced in this cell library, it will be lost or unnecessary. information, Perhaps it can lead to developmental disabilities, hereditary disorders, and even distress such as cancer, “explains Zidowska. genome Organization within the cell nucleus is important in understanding these conditions and diseases. In addition, such knowledge may be useful in designing future treatments and diagnostics for such disorders. ”


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For more information:
Physical Review Letter (2021). DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevLett.126.228101

Quote: What about an open book-like genome? According to a new study, the cell’s “library system” (June 2, 2021) was released on June 2, 2021 at https://phys.org/news/2021. Obtained from -06-genome-cells-library.html.

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What about an open book-like genome?New research shows the “library system” of cells

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