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Nature's Scriptorium

Chromatin revealed to be arranged in layers rather than throughout the cell nucleus

19 June 2022

Nature's Scriptorium

DNA is precious. Like an ancient text brought out to be transcribed by monks, once a gene is 'read' – once DNA transcription takes place – the precious code is quickly stowed away in a form called chromatin. In the cell nucleus, like this one from a young fruit fly visualised by live 3D fluorescent image analysis, chromatin is often thought to be bundled up like books shoved in a cupboard, affecting the way DNA is accessed and read. Yet here we see chromatin (highlighted in red) arranged around the nuclear lamina – an inner shell of supportive proteins near the outer ‘envelope’ of the nucleus (green). Researchers superimpose concentric circles inside to highlight the distribution, finding similar patterns in human cells too. That chromatin has kept similar patterns throughout evolution suggests new ways to influence our DNA that might be examined in health and disease.

Written by John Ankers

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