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Three-dimensional chromatin interactions remain stable upon CAG/CTG repeat expansion

By Gustavo A. Ruiz Buendía, Marion Leleu, Flavia Marzetta, Ludovica Vanzan, Jennifer Y. Tan, Ana Claudia Marques, Tuncay Baubec, Rabih Murr, Ioannis Xenarios, Vincent Dion

Posted 02 Sep 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/754838

Expanded CAG/CTG repeats underlie thirteen neurological disorders, including myotonic dystrophy (DM1) and Huntington's disease (HD). Upon expansion, CAG/CTG repeat loci acquire heterochromatic characteristics. This observation raises the hypothesis that repeat expansion provokes changes to higher order chromatin folding and thereby affects both gene expression in cis and the genetic instability of the repeat tract. Here we tested this hypothesis directly by performing 4C sequencing at the DMPK and HTT loci from DM1 and HD patient-derived cells. Surprisingly, chromatin contacts remain unchanged upon repeat expansion at both loci. This was true for loci with different DNA methylation levels and CTCF binding. Repeat sizes ranging from 15 to 1,700 displayed strikingly similar chromatin interaction profiles. Our findings argue that extensive changes in heterochromatic properties are not enough to alter chromatin folding at expanded CAG/CTG repeat loci. Moreover, the ectopic insertion of an expanded repeat tract did not change three-dimensional chromatin contacts. We conclude that expanded CAG/CTG repeats have little to no effect on chromatin conformation.

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