The spatial configuration of chromatin is fundamental to ensure any given cell can fulfil its functional duties, from gene expression to specialised cellular division. Significant technological innovations have facilitated further insights into the structure, function and regulation of three-dimensional chromatin organisation. To date, the vast majority of investigations into chromatin organisation have been conducted in interphase and mitotic cells leaving meiotic chromatin relatively unexplored. In combination, cytological and genome-wide contact frequency analyses in mammalian germ cells have recently demonstrated that large-scale chromatin structures in meiotic prophase I are reminiscent of the sequential loop arrays found in mitotic cells, although interphase-like segmentation of transcriptionally active and inactive regions are also evident along the length of chromosomes. Here, we discuss the similarities and differences of such large-scale chromatin architecture, between interphase, mitotic and meiotic cells, as well as their functional relevance and the proposed modulatory mechanisms which underlie them.

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