It has generally been assumed that transcriptionally active genes are in an ‘open’ chromatin structure and that silent genes have a ‘closed’ chromatin structure. Here we re-assess this axiom in the light of genome-wide studies of chromatin fibre structure. Using a combination of sucrose gradient sedimentation and genomic microarrays of the human genome, we argue that open chromatin fibres originate from regions of high gene density, whether or not those genes are transcriptionally active.

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