In eukaryotes transcriptional regulation often involves multiple long-range elements and is influenced by the genomic environment. A prime example of this concerns the mouse X-inactivation centre (Xic), which orchestrates the initiation of X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) by controlling the expression of the non-protein-coding Xist transcript. The extent of Xic sequences required for the proper regulation of Xist remains unknown. Here we use chromosome conformation capture carbon-copy (5C) and super-resolution microscopy to analyse the spatial organization of a 4.5-megabases (Mb) region including Xist. We discover a series of discrete 200-kilobase to 1Mb topologically associating domains (TADs), present both before and after cell differentiation and on the active and inactive X. TADs align with, but do not rely on, several domain-wide features of the epigenome, such as H3K27me3 or H3K9me2 blocks and lamina-associated domains. TADs also align with coordinately regulated gene clusters. Disruption of a TAD boundary causes ectopic chromosomal contacts and long-range transcriptional misregulation. The Xist/Tsix sense/antisense unit illustrates how TADs enable the spatial segregation of oppositely regulated chromosomal neighbourhoods, with the respective promoters of Xist and Tsix lying in adjacent TADs, each containing their known positive regulators. We identify a novel distal regulatory region of Tsix within its TAD, which produces a long intervening RNA, Linx. In addition to uncovering a new principle of cis-regulatory architecture of mammalian chromosomes, our study sets the stage for the full genetic dissection of the X-inactivation centre.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11049, hdl.handle.net/1765/57847
Journal Nature: international weekly journal of science
Grant This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id fp7/257082 - Epigenetics towards systems biology (EPIGENESYS), This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id fp7/242129 - Systems Biology of Stem Cells and Reprogramming (SYBOSS)
Citation
Nora, E.P, Lajoie, B.R, Schulz, E.G, Giorgetti, L, Okamoto, I, Servant, N, … Heard, E. (2012). Spatial partitioning of the regulatory landscape of the X-inactivation centre. Nature: international weekly journal of science, 485(7398), 381–385. doi:10.1038/nature11049