The aim of the Fransz lab is to understand the relation between the spatial organization of the eukaryote genome and chromosome function. Genetic and epigenetic information is stored in the nucleus, in which long chromatin fibers are folded in chromosomal subdomains. Importantly, the ’on demand availability’ of genetic information requires that the folding patterns of chromatin are highly flexible. Furthermore, the spatial organization of chromosomes is related to the linear DNA sequence: the distribution of genes and transposon elements along the genome. The Fransz group investigates structure, folding and dynamics of chromatin in relation to (i) the DNA sequence, (ii) gene expression and (iii) nuclear reprogramming during developmental and environmental changes. We focus on two research lines:
We exploit the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, for which we have developed a system to disturb chromatin organization in a reversible manner. Qualitative and predictive quantitative polymer models that are based on in situ measurements will be used to explore chromatin folding and to identify factors that control chromatin compaction. In collaboration with Dr. M. Stam (NOG, UvA) and Dr. F. Wittink (MAD, UvA) we investigate long-distance physical interactions between chromosomal regions. The integration of folding data, genomic sequence information and gene expression profiles will provide us with important information on the folding-function relationship of the eukaryote chromosome.