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Supercoiling is a fundamental property of DNA and chromatin. It is modulated by polymerase and topoisomerase activities and, through regulated constraint, by DNA/chromatin binding proteins. As a non-covalent and elusive topological modification, supercoiling has proved intractable to research despite being a crucial regulator of nuclear structure and function. Recent studies have improved our understanding of the formation, regulation and organisation of supercoiling domains in vivo, and reinforce the prospect that the propagation of supercoiling can influence local and global chromatin structure. However, to further our understanding the development of new experimental tools and models are required to better dissect the mechanics of this key topological regulator.
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