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J Cell Biol. 1997 Dec 29;139(7):1597-610.

Spatial organization of large-scale chromatin domains in the nucleus: a magnified view of single chromosome territories.

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  • 1Institute of Histology, Faculty of Medicine, 1699 Lisboa codex, Portugal.


We have analyzed the spatial organization of large scale chromatin domains in chinese hamster fibroblast, human lymphoid (IM-9), and marsupial kidney epithelial (PtK) cells by labeling DNA at defined stages of S phase via pulsed incorporation of halogenated deoxynucleosides. Most, if not all, chromosomes contribute multiple chromatin domains to both peripheral and internal nucleoplasmic compartments. The peripheral compartment contains predominantly late replicating G/Q bands, whereas early replicating R bands preferentially localize to the internal nucleoplasmic compartment. During mitosis, the labeled chromatin domains that were separated in interphase form a pattern of intercalated bands along the length of each metaphase chromosome. The transition from a banded (mitotic) to a compartmentalized (interphasic) organization of chromatin domains occurs during the late telophase/early G1 stage and is independent of transcriptional activation of the genome. Interestingly, generation of micronuclei with a few chromosomes showed that the spatial separation of early and late replicating chromatin compartments is recapitulated independently of chromosome number, even in micronuclei containing only a single chromosome. Our data strongly support the notion that the compartmentalization of large-scale (band size) chromatin domains seen in the intact nucleus is a magnified image of a similar compartmentalization occurring in individual chromosome territories.

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