Single particle imaging in the cell nucleus : a quantitative approach

Abstract : The cell nucleus is a chemical reactor. Nuclear components interact with each other to express genes, duplicate the chromosomes for cell division, and protect DNA from alteration. These reactions are regulated along the cell cycle and in response to stress. One of the fundamental nuclear processes, transcription, enables the production of a messenger RNA from a template DNA sequence. While mandatory for the cell, transcription nevertheless may involve a very small number of molecules. Indeed, a single gene would have only few copies in the genome. During my PhD, I studied nuclear processes in human cells nuclei at the single molecule level with novel imaging techniques. I developed new statistical tools to quantify nuclear components movement that revealed a dynamic nuclear architecture. Since the 90s, simple methods have been developed for the observation of single molecules in the cell. These experiments can be conducted in an ordinary inverted microscope. We used these methods to monitor nuclear molecules called transcription factors (TF) that regulate transcription. From TF dynamics, we concluded that nuclear exploration by transcription factors is regulated by their chemical interactions with partners. The organization of the components of the nucleus guide transcription factors in their search of a gene. As an example of this organization, we then studied chromatin, the de-condensed form of nuclear DNA, proving that it displays the characteristics of a self-organized fractal structure. This structure changes in response to cellular fate and stress. In yeast, we showed that the interminglement of chromatin constrained DNA locus movement in a reptation regime. All these results show the interdependence of the structure of the nucleus and of its chemical reactions. With combination of realistic modeling and high resolution microscopy, we have enlightened the specificity of the nucleus as a chemical reactor. This thesis has also enabled the development of accurate methods for the statistical analysis of single molecule data.
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Vincent Récamier. Single particle imaging in the cell nucleus : a quantitative approach. Agricultural sciences. Université René Descartes - Paris V, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013PA05T091⟩. ⟨tel-00998389⟩

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