Shape Transitions and Chiral Symmetry Breaking in the Energy Landscape of the Mitotic Chromosome
We derive an unbiased information theoretic energy landscape for chromosomes at metaphase using a maximum entropy approach that accurately reproduces the details of the experimentally measured pairwise contact probabilities between genomic loci. Dynamical simulations using this landscape lead to cylindrical, helically twisted structures reflecting liquid crystalline order. These structures are similar to those arising from a generic ideal homogenized chromosome energy landscape. The helical twist can be either right or left handed so chiral symmetry is broken spontaneously. The ideal chromosome landscape when augmented by interactions like those leading to topologically associating domain formation in the interphase chromosome reproduces these behaviors. The phase diagram of this landscape shows that the helical fiber order and the cylindrical shape persist at temperatures above the onset of chiral symmetry breaking, which is limited by the topologically associating domain interaction strength.