In the February 2011 issue of Scientific American Tom Misteli, a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute, reveals an amazingly dynamic world inside the cell nucleus. In the article "The Inner Life of the Genome" he notes that chromosomes—the repositories of our genes—have favored locales within the nucleus, preferences that vary from one cell type to another. But the chromosomes do not sit quietly in their chosen spots; as cells alter their behavior and degree of specialization, the chromosomes move around, and this motion is important to proper cell functioning. Misteli suspects that cells do not have dedicated machinery that determines where chromosomes end up in the nucleus. Instead the chromosomes probably self-organize, with the activities of genes determining the positioning.

In an engaging video clip here, Misteli explains his thinking to Richard Sever, an editor at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, which in November 2010 published The Nucleus (Perspectives in Biology), edited by Misteli and David L. Spector. In the video Misteli also explains how chromosome positioning can influence the development of cancer.


Video courtesy of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory