National Research Centre Frontiers in Genetics, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; School of Life Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Federale, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Vertebrate genes controlling critical developmental processes are often regulated by complex sets of global enhancer sequences, located at a distance, within neighboring gene deserts. Recent technological advances have made it possible to investigate the spatial organization of these 'regulatory landscapes'. The integration of such datasets with information on chromatin status, transcriptional activity and nuclear localization of these loci, as well as the effects of genetic modifications thereof, may bring a more comprehensive understanding of tissue- and/or stage-specific gene regulation in both normal and pathological contexts. Here, we review the impact of recent technological advances on our understanding of large-scale gene regulation in vertebrates, by focusing on paradigmatic gene loci.