Inter-chromosomal contact networks provide insights into mammalian chromatin organization

Stefanie Kaufmann, Christiane Fuchs, Mariya Gonik, Ekaterina E. Khrameeva, Andrey A. Mironov, Dmitrij Frishman Frishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The recent advent of conformation capture techniques has provided unprecedented insights into the spatial organization of chromatin. We present a large-scale investigation of the interchromosomal segment and gene contact networks in embryonic stem cells of two mammalian organisms: humans and mice. Both interaction networks are characterized by a high degree of clustering of genome regions and the existence of hubs. Both genomes exhibit similar structural characteristics such as increased flexibility of certain Y chromosome regions and co-localization of centromere-proximal regions. Spatial proximity is correlated with the functional similarity of genes in both species. We also found a significant association between spatial proximity and the co-expression of genes in the human genome. The structural properties of chromatin are also species specific, including the presence of two highly interactive regions in mouse chromatin and an increased contact density on short, gene-rich human chromosomes, thereby indicating their central nuclear position. Trans-interacting segments are enriched in active marks in human and had no distinct feature profile in mouse. Thus, in contrast to interactions within individual chromosomes, the inter-chromosomal interactions in human and mouse embryonic stem cells do not appear to be conserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0126125
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - 11 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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