Potential role of phase separation of repetitive DNA in chromosomal organization

Shao Jun Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The basic principles of chromosomal organization in eukaryotic cells remain elusive. current mainstream research efforts largely concentrate on searching for critical packaging proteins involved in organizing chromosomes. I have taken a different perspective, by considering the role of genomic information in chromatins. In particular, I put forward the concept that repetitive DNA elements are key chromosomal packaging modules, and their intrinsic property of homology-based interaction can drive chromatin folding. Many repetitive DNA families have high copy numbers and clustered distribution patterns in the linear genomes. These features may facilitate the interactions among members in the same repeat families. In this paper, the potential liquid-liquid phase transition of repetitive DNAs that is induced by their extensive interaction in chromosomes will be considered. I propose that the interaction among repetitive DNAs may lead to phase separation of interacting repetitive DNAs from bulk chromatins. Phase separation of repetitive DNA may provide a physical mechanism that drives rapid massive changes of chromosomal conformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number279
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 18 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromatin
  • Chromosome
  • Core theory
  • Membrane-less organelle
  • Phase separation
  • Repeat assembly
  • Repetitive DNA
  • ‘junk’ DNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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