EU Life Lecture - Contacts between genes drive position effects in Drosophila

As part of our ongoing relationship with the EU Life Alliance, the Babraham Institute are proud to welcome Dr Guillaume Filion from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona.


 "Contacts between genes drive position effects in Drosophila" 

In eukaryotes, transcription proceeds through sequence-specific and context-dependent mechanisms. It has long been observed that the expression of a gene can change when it is translocated to an ectopic site of the genome, a phenomenon known as position effect. For genes transplanted near a centromere, invasion by heterochromatin was proposed as the mechanism of silencing. The recent discovery of additional chromatin types suggests that similar effects may take place away from the centromeres. Here we show that position effects are predominantly driven by spatial contacts with active genes, and more particularly with their terminators. By measuring the expression of ~ 85,000 integrated reporters, we identified the best predictors of expression as chromosomal contacts with the promoters and terminators of active genes. Surprisingly, the chromatin composition at the insertion site and the contacts with enhancers were less informative. These results are substantiated by the existence of ‘paradoxical’ domains, rich in euchromatic features and enhancers, but where the reporters are expressed at low level due to a deficit of interactions with promoters and terminators. Overall our results suggest that the role of contacts with promoters and terminators in gene expression was underappreciated. Our results also provide a mechanism to explain the aggregation of housekeeping genes on Drosophila chromosomes and cast new perspectives on the evolution of genome architectures.

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EU-LIFE is an alliance of European life science research centers that have joined forces to support, collaborate and strengthen scientific research in Europe, working together to achieve advancement and further understanding in Life Sciences.

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Event Time & Dates


Event Details

Prof. Wolf Reik
The Brian Heap Seminar Room