It’s one thing to catalog each chemical unit of DNA that makes up the human genome. It’s another thing entirely to understand how that genetic material is folded up inside a living cell — and then decoded, manipulated and used.
Achieving that understanding is the task of the architectural scholars of molecular biology, scientists who describe the loops and other yogic postures that DNA displays inside the cramped space of a cell’s nucleus. This architecture has important implications for function, perhaps by arranging the genetic furniture to enable one cell to operate as a liver cell and another to work as a skin cell. But even this 3-D appreciation of the genome is limited, as science writing intern Sarah Schwartz writes. Researchers must also contemplate a fourth dimension: