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The interphase nucleus exists as a highly dynamic system, the physical properties of which have functional importance in gene regulation. Not only can gene expression be influenced by the local sequence context, but also by the architecture of the nucleus in three-dimensions (3D), and by the interactions between these levels via chromatin modifications. A challenging task is to resolve the complex interplay between sequence- and genome structure-based control mechanisms. Here, we created a collection of 277 Arabidopsis lines that allow the visual tracking of individual loci in living plants while comparing gene expression potential at these locations, via an identical reporter cassette. Our studies revealed regional gene silencing near a heterochromatin island, via DNA methylation, that is correlated with mobility constraint and nucleolar association. We also found an example of nucleolar association that does not correlate with gene suppression, suggesting that distinct mechanisms exist that can mediate interactions between chromatin and the nucleolus. These studies demonstrate the utility of this novel resource in unifying structural and functional studies towards a more comprehensive model of how global chromatin organization may coordinate gene expression over large scales. © 2008 The Authors.

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Plant Journal

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