Four-dimensional chromosome reconstruction elucidates the spatiotemporal reorganization of the mammalian X chromosome

A Lappala and CY Wang and A Kriz and H Michalk and K Tan and JT Lee and KY Sanbonmatsu, PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 118, e2107092118 (2021).

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2107092118

Chromosomes are segmented into domains and compartments, but how these structures are spatially related in three dimensions (3D) is unclear. Here, we developed tools that directly extract 3D information from Hi-C experiments and integrate the data across time. With our "4DHiC" method, we use X chromosome inactivation (XCI) as a model to examine the time evolution of 3D chromosome architecture during large-scale changes in gene expression. Our modeling resulted in several insights. Both A/B and S1/S2 compartments divide the X chromosome into hemisphere-like structures suggestive of a spatial phase-separation. During the XCI, the X chromosome transits through A/B, S1/S2, and megadomain structures by undergoing only partial mixing to assume new structures. Interestingly, when an active X chromosome (Xa) is reorganized into an inactive X chromosome (Xi), original underlying compartment structures are not fully eliminated within the Xi superstructure. Our study affirms slow mixing dynamics in the inner chromosome core and faster dynamics near the surface where escapees reside. Once established, the Xa and Xi resemble glassy polymers where mixing no longer occurs. Finally, Xist RNA molecules initially reside within the A compartment but transition to the interface between the A and B hemispheres and then spread between hemispheres via both surface and core to establish the Xi.

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