In eukaryotes, enhancers must often exert their effect over many tens of kilobases of DNA with a choice between many different promoters. Given this situation, elements known as chromatin boundaries have evolved to prevent adventitious interactions between enhancers and promoters. The amenability of Drosophila to molecular genetics has been crucial to the discovery and analysis of these elements. Since these elements are involved in such diverse processes and show little or no sequence similarity between them, no single molecular mechanism has been identified that accounts for their activity. However, over the past approximately 5 years, evidence has accumulated suggesting that boundaries probably function through the formation of long-distance chromatin loops. These loops have been proposed to play a crucial role in both controlling enhancer-promoter interactions and packing DNA.
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