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Title: Multi-scale analysis of chromosome and nuclear architecture
Author: Olivares Chauvet, Pedro
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 9690
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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Mammalian nuclear function depends on the complex interaction of genetic and epi-genetic elements coordinated in space and time. Structure and function overlap to such a degree that they are usually considered as being inextricably linked. In this work I combine an experimental approach with a computational one in order to answer two main questions in the field of mammalian chromosome organization. In the first section of this thesis, I attempted to answer the question, to what extent does chromatin from different chromosome territories share the same space inside the nucleus? This is a relatively open question in the field of chromosome territories. It is well-known and accepted that interphase chromosomes are spatially constrained inside the nucleus and that they occupy their own territory, however, the degree of spatial interaction between neighbouring chromosomes is still under debate. Using labelling methods that directly incorporate halogenated DNA precursors into newly replicated DNA without the need for immuno-detection or in situ hybridization, we show that neighbouring chromosome territories colocalise at very low levels. We also found that the native structure of DNA foci is partially responsible for constraining the interaction of chromosome territories as disruption of the innate architecture of DNA foci by treatment with TSA resulted in increased colocalisation signal between adjacent chromosomes territories. The second major question I attempted to answer concerned the correlation between nuclear function and the banding pattern observed in human mitotic chromosomes. Human mitotic chromosomes display characteristic patterns of light and dark bands when visualized under the light microscope using specific chemical dyes such as Giemsa. Despite the long standing use of the Giemsa banding pattern in human genetics for identifying chromosome abnormalities and mapping genes, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that generate the Giemsa banding pattern or its biological relevance. The recent availability of many genetic and epigenetic features mapped to the human genome permit a high-resolution investigation of the molecular correlates of Giemsa banding. Here I investigate the relationship of more than 50 genomic and epigenomic features with light (R) and dark (G) bands. My results confirm many classical results, such as the low gene density of the most darkly staining G bands and their late replication time, using genome-wide data. Surprisingly, I found that for virtually all features investigated, R bands show intermediate properties between the lightest and darkest G bands, suggesting that many R bands contain G-like sequences within them. To identify R bands that show properties of G bands, I employed an unsupervised learning approach to classify R bands on their genomic and epigenomic properties and show that the smallest R bands show a tendency to have characteristics typical of G bands. I revisit the evidence supporting the boundaries of G and R bands in the current cytogenomic map and conclude that inaccurate placement of weakly supported band boundaries can explain the intermediate pattern of R bands. Finally, I propose an approach based on aggregating data from multiple genomic and epigenomic features to improve the positioning of band boundaries in the human cytogenomic map. My results suggest that contiguous domains showing a high degree of uniformity in the ratio of heterochromatin and euchromatin sub-domains define the Giemsa banding pattern in human chromosomes.
Supervisor: Jackson, Dean; Bergman, Casey Sponsor: Mexican National Council on Science and Technology ; CONACyT
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Chromosome Biology ; Nuclear Architecture ; Genomics ; Human Genome