Chromatin motion is constrained by association with nuclear compartments in human cells

Jonathan R. Chubb, Shelagh Boyle, Paul Perry, Wendy A. Bickmore

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    475 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: In comparison with many nuclear proteins, the movement of chromatin in nuclei appears to be generally constrained. These restrictions on motion are proposed to reflect the attachment of chromatin to immobile nuclear substructures. Results: To gain insight into the regulation of chromosome dynamics by nuclear architecture, we have followed the movements of different sites in the human genome in living cells. Here, we show that loci at nucleoli or the nuclear periphery are significantly less mobile than other, more nucleoplasmic loci. Disruption of nucleoli increases the mobility of nucleolar-associated loci. Conclusions: This is the first report of distinct nuclear substructures constraining the movements of chromatin. These constraints reflect the physical attachment of chromatin to nuclear compartments or steric impairment caused by local ultrastructure. Our data suggest a role for the nucleolus and nuclear periphery in maintaining the three-dimensional organization of chromatin in the human nucleus.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)439-445
    Number of pages7
    JournalCurrent Biology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • Chromatin
    • Cell biology
    • Nucleus


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