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Creators/Authors contains: "Brahmachari, Sumitabha"

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. Abstract The link between genomic structure and biological function is yet to be consolidated, it is, however, clear that physical manipulation of the genome, driven by the activity of a variety of proteins, is a crucial step. To understand the consequences of the physical forces underlying genome organization, we build a coarse-grained polymer model of the genome, featuring three fundamentally distinct classes of interactions: lengthwise compaction, i.e., compaction of chromosomes along its contour, self-adhesion among epigenetically similar genomic segments, and adhesion of chromosome segments to the nuclear envelope or lamina. We postulate that these three types of interactions sufficiently represent the concerted action of the different proteins organizing the genome architecture and show that an interplay among these interactions can recapitulate the architectural variants observed across the tree of life. The model elucidates how an interplay of forces arising from the three classes of genomic interactions can drive drastic, yet predictable, changes in the global genome architecture, and makes testable predictions. We posit that precise control over these interactions in vivo is key to the regulation of genome architecture. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Damaged or mismatched DNA bases result in the formation of physical defects in double-stranded DNA. In vivo, defects in DNA must be rapidly and efficiently repaired to maintain cellular function and integrity. Defects can also alter the mechanical response of DNA to bending and twisting constraints, both of which are important in defining the mechanics of DNA supercoiling. Here, we use coarse-grained molecular dynamics (MD) simulation and supporting statistical-mechanical theory to study the effect of mismatched base pairs on DNA supercoiling. Our simulations show that plectoneme pinning at the mismatch site is deterministic under conditions of relatively high force (>2 pN) and high salt concentration (>0.5 M NaCl). Under physiologically relevant conditions of lower force (0.3 pN) and lower salt concentration (0.2 M NaCl), we find that plectoneme pinning becomes probabilistic and the pinning probability increases with the mismatch size. These findings are in line with experimental observations. The simulation framework, validated with experimental results and supported by the theoretical predictions, provides a way to study the effect of defects on DNA supercoiling and the dynamics of supercoiling in molecular detail. 
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  4. Abstract

    Multiple RNA polymerases (RNAPs) transcribing a gene have been known to exhibit collective group behavior, causing the transcription elongation rate to increase with the rate of transcription initiation. Such behavior has long been believed to be driven by a physical interaction or ‘push’ between closely spaced RNAPs. However, recent studies have posited that RNAPs separated by longer distances may cooperate by modifying the DNA segment under transcription. Here, we present a theoretical model incorporating the mechanical coupling between RNAP translocation and the DNA torsional response. Using stochastic simulations, we demonstrate DNA supercoiling-mediated long-range cooperation between co-transcribing RNAPs. We find that inhibiting transcription initiation can slow down the already recruited RNAPs, in agreement with recent experimental observations, and predict that the average transcription elongation rate varies non-monotonically with the rate of transcription initiation. We further show that while RNAPs transcribing neighboring genes oriented in tandem can cooperate, those transcribing genes in divergent or convergent orientations can act antagonistically, and that such behavior holds over a large range of intergenic separations. Our model makes testable predictions, revealing how the mechanical interplay between RNAPs and the DNA they transcribe can govern transcriptional dynamics.

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  5. We investigated genome folding across the eukaryotic tree of life. We find two types of three-dimensional (3D) genome architectures at the chromosome scale. Each type appears and disappears repeatedly during eukaryotic evolution. The type of genome architecture that an organism exhibits correlates with the absence of condensin II subunits. Moreover, condensin II depletion converts the architecture of the human genome to a state resembling that seen in organisms such as fungi or mosquitoes. In this state, centromeres cluster together at nucleoli, and heterochromatin domains merge. We propose a physical model in which lengthwise compaction of chromosomes by condensin II during mitosis determines chromosome-scale genome architecture, with effects that are retained during the subsequent interphase. This mechanism likely has been conserved since the last common ancestor of all eukaryotes.

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