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Nonequilibrium Theory of Epigenomic Microphase Separation in the Cell Nucleus

By Davide Michieletto, Davide Colì, Davide Marenduzzo, Enzo Orlandini

Posted 05 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/831396 (published DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.123.228101)

Understanding the spatial organisation of the genome in the cell nucleus is one of the current grand challenges in biophysics. Certain biochemical -- or epigenetic -- marks that are deposited along the genome are thought to play an important, yet poorly understood, role in determining genome organisation and cell identity. The physical principles underlying the interplay between epigenetic dynamics and genome folding remain elusive. Here we propose and study a theory that assumes a coupling between epigenetic mark and genome densities, and which can be applied at the scale of the whole nucleus. We show that equilibrium models are not compatible with experiments and a qualitative agreement is recovered by accounting for non-equilibrium processes which can stabilise microphase separated epigenomic domains. We finally discuss the potential biophysical origin of these terms.

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