Eukaryotic cells are defined by the genetic information that is stored in their DNA. To function, this genetic information must be decoded. In doing this, the information encoded in DNA is copied first into RNA, during RNA transcription. Primary RNA transcripts are generated within transcription factories, where they are also processed into mature mRNAs, which then pass to the cytoplasm. In the cytoplasm these mRNAs can finally be translated into protein in order to express the genetic information as a functional product. With only rare exceptions, the cells of an individual multicellular eukaryote contain identical genetic information. However, as different genes must be expressed in different cell types to define the structure and function of individual tissues, it is clear that mechanisms must have evolved to regulate gene expression. In higher eukaryotes, mechanisms that regulate the interaction of DNA with the sites where nuclear functions are performed provide one such layer of regulation. In this chapter, I evaluate how a detailed understanding of nuclear structure and chromatin dynamics are beginning to reveal how spatial mechanisms link chromatin structure and function. As these mechanisms operate to modulate the genetic information in DNA, the regulation of chromatin function by nuclear architecture defines the concept of ‘spatial epigenetics’.

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