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Adv Clin Path. 1999 Oct;3(4):111-8.

The applications of FISH in tumor pathology.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Ospedale di Circolo-University of Insubria, Varese, Italy.


The current FISH technology was greatly improved during the past 10 years. A large number of cosmids and yeast (YACs), bacterial (BACs), phage P1 derived (PACs) artificial chromosomes have been rapidly mapped and are useful as probes. In parallel, methods were established to specifically "paint" entire chromosomes or chromosome segments. Using these chromosome libraries as probes, complex rearrangements and marker chromosomes can be identified irrespective of their banding pattern. Ripetitive DNA probes specific for each chromosome centromere (alpha satellite sequences), are also available and may be used to identify specific aneuploidies. The use of sensitive digital imaging systems on the basis of "colour" rather than morphology increased the improvement of new FISH techniques. In particular, colour karyotyping results in the differential colour display of all human chromosomes. Another recent development of FISH technology is comparative genome hybridization (CGH), a genome-scanning technique that allows to identify and map chromosomal and subchromosomal gains and losses. FISH techniques may be used to investigate chromosome abnormalities not only on metaphasic chromosomes but also on interphasic nuclei. Any given tissue or cell source, such as sections of frozen tumors, imprinted cells, cultured cells, paraffin-embedded sections may be hybridized. The interphasic FISH may be extremely informative in tumor pathology even if the results are dependent on a good technical quality and adequate controls.

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