Electric oscillation and coupling of chromatin regulate chromosome packaging and transcription in eukaryotic cells
State key laboratory of molecular oncology, Cancer Institute & Hospital of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, 100021, China
Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling 2012, 9:27 doi:10.1186/1742-4682-9-27Published: 3 July 2012
Transcription in eukaryotic cells is efficiently spatially and temporally regulated, but how this genome-wide regulation is achieved at the physical level remains unclear, given the limited transcriptional resources within the nucleus and the sporadic linear arrangements of genes within chromosomes. In this article, we provide a physical model for chromatin cluster formation, based on oscillation synchronization and clustering of different chromatin regions, enabling efficient systemic genome-wide regulation of transcription. We also propose that the electromagnetic field generated by oscillation of chromatin is the driving force for chromosome packing during M phase. We further explore the physical mechanisms for chromatin oscillation cluster (COC) formation, and long-distance chromatin kissing. The COC model, which connects the dots between chromatin epigenetic modification and higher-order nuclear organization, answers many important questions, such as how the CCCTC-binding factor CTCF contributes to higher-order chromatin organization, and the mechanism of sequential transcriptional activation of HOX clusters. In the COC model, long non-coding RNAs function as oscillation clustering adaptors to recruit chromatin modification factors to specific sub-nuclear regions, fine-tuning transcriptional events in the chromatin oscillation clusters. Introns of eukaryotic genes have evolved to promote the clustering of transcriptionally co-regulated genes in these sub-nuclear regions.