📰 Manipulation of chromosomes reveals that they are almost liquid

Scientists from the CNRS, the Institut Curie, and the Sorbonne University have been able, for the first time, to physically act on the chromosomes of living cells. By subjecting the chromosomes to different forces, using magnets, they discovered that the chromosomes are actually very fluid, almost liquid, outside the phases of division (Division is a law of composition which associates the product of the first with two numbers…) of the cell. This study is published in Science, July 29, 2022.

Image by Reimund Bertrams de Pixabay

Chromosomes are fluid, almost liquid, outside periods of division. A discovery made possible through manipulation mechanical (In everyday language, mechanics is the field of machines, engines, vehicles, organs, etc.) direct, for the very first time, from chromosomes contained in the nucleus of living cells.

Until then, the chromosomes, very long DNA molecules, were represented as tangled, like balls of wool, and formant (In intonation, fundamental frequency changes are perceived as variations of…) a kind of frost. The observations (Observation is the action of attentive follow-up of phenomena, without the will to see them…) of this new publication therefore give an image different (In mathematics, the different is defined in algebraic theory of…). Fluid (A fluid is a perfectly deformable material medium. We group under this…)able to move freely, the chromosome (The chromosome (from the Greek khroma, color and soma, body, element) is the element…) is not constrained by the other constituent elements in the nucleus, and is able to reorganize itself.

To reach these conclusions published in Sciencescientists from CNRS (The National Center for Scientific Research, better known by its acronym CNRS, is the largest…)of the’Curie Institute (The Institut Curie is a foundation, whose main activities are on the one hand…)and of Sorbonne (The Sorbonne is a monumental complex in the Latin Quarter of Paris. It takes its name from…) Université (A university is an institution of higher education whose objective is the…) within the laboratories Dynamic (The word dynamic is often used to designate or qualify what relates to movement. It…) of the nucleus, Physico-chemistry Curie and Biology (Biology, commonly called “bio”, is the science of life….) cellular and cancer (Cancer is a disease characterized by abnormal cell proliferation…), in collaboration with scientists at MIT, attached magnetic nanoparticles to a small portion of a living cell’s chromosome. They then stretched the chromosome, and exerted on it different intensities of forces, thanks to the attraction of a micro magnet (A magnet is an object made of a hard magnetic material, i.e. whose…). Using this approach, the teams succeeded, for the very first time in a living cell, in measuring the response of a chromosome to external forces.

Through these experiments, the researchers were able to observe that the scale of forces naturally exerted in the nucleus, for example by DNA-replicating enzymes, is sufficient to alter the conformation (In chemistry, the conformation of a molecule is the spatial arrangement of the atoms that compose it….) of the chromosome. This major discovery, at theinterface (An interface is an area, real or virtual, that separates two elements. The interface…) from physique (Physics (from the Greek φυσις, nature) is etymologically the…) and biology, changes the hitherto established representation of the chromosome. It also brings new elements of understanding on the biological processes, on the biophysics (Biophysics is a discipline at the interface of physics and biology where the tools…) of the chromosome and on theorganisation (An organization is) from genome (The genome is the whole of the genetic material of an individual or a…).

Artistic view of the mechanical manipulation of a chromosome.
© Veer IP Keizer


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Live-cell micromanipulation of a genomic locus reveals interphase chromatin mechanics.
Veer IP Keizer, Simon Grosse-Holz, Maxime Woringer, Laura Zambon, Koceila Aizel, Maud Bongaerts, Fanny Delille, Lorena Kolar-Znika, Vittore F. Scolari, Sebastian Hoffmann, Edward J. Banigan, Leonid A. Mirny, Maxime Dahan, Daniele Fachinetti, Antoine Coulon.
Science, July 29, 2022.
DOI: 10.1126/science.abi9810.

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