Bioessays 39 (10):1700104 (2017)

Recent years have witnessed an explosion of the single-cell biochemical toolbox including chromosome conformation capture -based methods that provide novel insights into chromatin spatial organization in individual cells. The observations made with these techniques revealed that topologically associating domains emerge from cell population averages and do not exist as static structures in individual cells. Stochastic nature of the genome folding is likely to be biologically relevant and may reflect the ability of chromatin fibers to adopt a number of alternative configurations, some of which could be transiently stabilized and serve regulatory purposes. Single-cell Hi-C approaches provide an opportunity to analyze chromatin folding in rare cell types such as stem cells, tumor progenitors, oocytes, and totipotent cells, contributing to a deeper understanding of basic mechanisms in development and disease. Here, we review key findings of single-cell Hi-C and discuss possible biological reasons and consequences of the inferred dynamic chromatin spatial organization. Single-cell Hi-C expands the molecular biology toolbox for studies of chromatin structure in individual cells. This technique allows one to analyze cell-to-cell variability in TAD and loop structure, and to capture chromosome conformation in rare cell types such as oocytes, totipotent cells, and tumor progenitors.
Keywords CTCF/cohesin‐anchored loop  TAD  chromatin  chromatin compartment  genome spatial organization  single‐cell Hi‐C
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DOI 10.1002/bies.201700104
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