Chromatin loops between gene pairs have been observed in diverse contexts in both flies and vertebrates. Combining high-resolution Capture-C, DNA fluorescence in situ hybridization, and genetic perturbations, we dissect the functional role of three loops between genes with related function during Drosophila embryogenesis. By mutating the loop anchor (but not the gene) or the gene (but not loop anchor), we disentangle loop formation and gene expression and show that the 3D proximity of paralogous gene loci supports their co-regulation. Breaking the loop leads to either an attenuation or enhancement of expression and perturbs their relative levels of expression and cross-regulation. Although many loops appear constitutive across embryogenesis, their function can change in different developmental contexts. Taken together, our results indicate that chromatin gene-gene loops act as architectural scaffolds that can be used in different ways in different contexts to fine-tune the coordinated expression of genes with related functions and sustain their cross-regulation.
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