Regulatory Landscaping: How Enhancer-Promoter Communication Is Sculpted in 3D.


RG Development & Disease, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Germany; Institute for Medical and Human Genetics, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany; Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]


During embryogenesis, precise gene transcription in space and time requires that distal enhancers and promoters communicate by physical proximity within gene regulatory landscapes. To achieve this, regulatory landscapes fold in nuclear space, creating complex 3D structures that influence enhancer-promoter communication and gene expression and that, when disrupted, can cause disease. Here, we provide an overview of how enhancers and promoters construct regulatory landscapes and how multiple scales of 3D chromatin structure sculpt their communication. We focus on emerging views of what enhancer-promoter contacts and chromatin domains physically represent and how two antagonistic fundamental forces-loop extrusion and homotypic attraction-likely form them. We also examine how these same forces spatially separate regulatory landscapes by functional state, thereby creating higher-order compartments that reconfigure during development to enable proper enhancer-promoter communication.