Mechanism by which genes change spatial positioning and turn gene expression on in response to environmental changes

November 24, 2020

Genes are arranged in the space in cell nucleus where DNAs are packaged three-dimensionally. Therefore, it has been known that genes change the three-dimensional positioning in the cell nucleus to regulate the ON/OFF of gene expression. The detailed mechanism, however, had remained unknown.

A joint research group from Osaka University, the University of Tokyo, and RIKEN CSRS showed that CROWDED NUCLEI (CRWN) localize at the nuclear lamina and form the meshwork structure. Furthermore, the group showed that the spatial positioning of copper-associated genes changes as the copper environmental variation, and that the expression of the genes is turned ON when copper-associated genes bind to CRWN. By using the latest imaging techniques and biochemical methods, molecular mechanism that changes the spatial positioning of genes in response to changes in the external environment was identified.

The results of this study should open the door to research on three-dimensional gene expression regulation, while artificial regulation of spatial positioning of genes is expected to be useful in development of new molecular breeding techniques to breed species that are highly resistant to environmental changes.

Original article
Nature Communications doi:10.1038/s41467-020-19621-z
Y. Sakamoto, M. Sato, Y.u Sato, A. Harada, T. Suzuki, C. Goto, K. Tamura, K. Toyooka, H. Kimura, Y. Ohkawa, I. Hara-Nishimura, S. Takagi, S. Matsunaga,
"Subnuclear gene positioning through lamina association affects copper tolerance".
Kiminori Toyooka
Senior Technical Scientist
Mass Spectrometry and Microscopy Unit