Chromosome evolution occurs within the constrains of genome topology
A northern white-cheeked gibbon is swinging across a river that separates different landscapes, inspired by the complex patterns of epigenetic states within the genome – an arid desert of open chromatin and an impenetrable tropical forest of packed chromatin. Lazar et al. used the heavily rearranged gibbon genome to investigate how evolutionary chromosomal rearrangements impact genome-wide chromatin interactions, topologically associating domains (TADs), and their epigenetic landscape. They found that gibbon breaks of synteny occurred predominantly at TAD boundaries, resulting in the preservation of epigenetic conformations in the regions surrounding the break. In analogy, the river represents both – TAD boundaries and breaks of synteny – that separate the distinct epigenetic landscapes. Lastly, the authors also hope to bring awareness and attention to tropical deforestations that are threatening survival of gibbon species across the world. Illustration by Beata Edyta Mierzwa, BeataScienceArt.com.