Genomes are self-organized and self-maintained as long, complex macromolecules of chromatin. The inherent heterogeneity, stochasticity, phase separation, and chromatin dynamics of genome operation make it challenging to study genomes using ensemble methods. Various single-molecule force-, fluorescent-, and sequencing-based techniques rooted in different disciplines have been developed to fill critical gaps in the capabilities of bulk measurements, each providing unique, otherwise inaccessible, insights into the structure and maintenance of the genome. Capable of capturing molecular-level details about the organization, conformational changes, and packaging of genetic material, as well as processive and stochastic movements of maintenance factors, a single-molecule toolbox provides an excellent opportunity for collaborative research to understand how genetic material functions in health and malfunctions in disease. In this review, we discuss novel insights brought to genomic sciences by single-molecule techniques and their potential to continue to revolutionize the field—one molecule at a time.

Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 75 is April 2024. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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