The probability of chromatin to be at the nuclear lamina has no systematic effect on its transcription level in fruit flies

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Background: Multiple studies have demonstrated a negative correlation between gene expression and positioning of genes at the nuclear envelope (NE) lined by nuclear lamina, but the exact relationship remains unclear, especially in light of the highly stochastic, transient nature of the gene association with the NE.

Results: In this paper, we ask whether there is a causal, systematic, genome-wide relationship between the expression levels of the groups of genes in topologically associating domains (TADs) of Drosophila nuclei and the probabilities of TADs to be found at the NE. To investigate the nature of this possible relationship, we combine a coarse-grained dynamic model of the entire Drosophila nucleus with genome-wide gene expression data; we analyze the TAD averaged transcription levels of genes against the probabilities of individual TADs to be in contact with the NE in the control and lamins-depleted nuclei. Our findings demonstrate that, within the statistical error margin, the stochastic positioning of Drosophila melanogaster TADs at the NE does not, by itself, systematically affect the mean level of gene expression in these TADs, while the expected negative correlation is confirmed. The correlation is weak and disappears completely for TADs not containing lamina-associated domains (LADs) or TADs containing LADs, considered separately. Verifiable hypotheses regarding the underlying mechanism for the presence of the correlation without causality are discussed. These include the possibility that the epigenetic marks and affinity to the NE of a TAD are determined by various non-mutually exclusive mechanisms and remain relatively stable during interphase.

Conclusions: At the level of TADs, the probability of chromatin being in contact with the nuclear envelope has no systematic, causal effect on the transcription level in Drosophila. The conclusion is reached by combining model-derived time-evolution of TAD locations within the nucleus with their experimental gene expression levels.




Epigenetics & Chromatin. 2024 May 06;17(1):13