Heterologous head-to-tail pairing between insulators in cis. A: Schematic of the eve regulatory region. Insulators: nhomie (orange), homie (brown), others are not specified. B: Interaction between nhomie-homie and flanking insulators generates independent stem-loops that are separated by unanchored segments. C: The nhomie-homie pair interacts with their neighbors. D: The interactions between insulators are further stabilized by homolog pairing. [modified from Chetverina et al., 2017: Bioessays 38: 1600233, DOI 10.1002/bies.201600233]
Chromosome architecture in 3 dimensions organized by chromatin insulators like homie and nhomie affect gene regulation, including its epigenetic maintenance. Our laboratory studies these processes in detail using the fruit fly model system. Insulator pairing can be very specific and strongly orientation-dependent, dictating not only how chromosomes are organized physically, but also which regulatory DNA elements activate or repress which genes. We also study how chromatin modification systems such as Polycomb-group proteins function in the context of this 3-D architecture, and how DNA binding proteins cooperate with each other to recognize and activate or repress specific genes.
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