Epigenetics & chromatin

Chromatin organization changes during the establishment and maintenance of the postmitotic state.

PMID 29126440


Genome organization changes during development as cells differentiate. Chromatin motion becomes increasingly constrained and heterochromatin clusters as cells become restricted in their developmental potential. These changes coincide with slowing of the cell cycle, which can also influence chromatin organization and dynamics. Terminal differentiation is often coupled with permanent exit from the cell cycle, and existing data suggest a close relationship between a repressive chromatin structure and silencing of the cell cycle in postmitotic cells. Heterochromatin clustering could also contribute to stable gene repression to maintain terminal differentiation or cell cycle exit, but whether clustering is initiated by differentiation, cell cycle changes, or both is unclear. Here we examine the relationship between chromatin organization, terminal differentiation and cell cycle exit. We focused our studies on the Drosophila wing, where epithelial cells transition from active proliferation to a postmitotic state in a temporally controlled manner. We find there are two stages of G Heterochromatin clustering during terminal differentiation is a consequence of cell cycle exit, rather than differentiation. Compromising heterochromatin-dependent gene silencing does not disrupt cell cycle exit.