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Biophys J. 1999 Nov;77(5):2871-86.

Quantitative motion analysis of subchromosomal foci in living cells using four-dimensional microscopy.

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Institute of Applied Physics, University of Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The motion of subchromosomal foci and of whole chromosome territories in live human cell nuclei was investigated in four-dimensional space-time images. Visualization of subchromosomal foci was achieved by incorporating Cy3-dUTP into the nuclear DNA of two different cell types after microinjection. A subsequent segregation of the labeled cell nuclei led to the presence of only a few labeled chromosome territories on a background of nonlabeled chromatin (Zink et al.,1998. Hum. Genet. 102:241-251). This procedure yielded many distinct signals in a given cell nucleus. Motion analysis in four-dimensional space-time images was performed using single-particle tracking and a statistical approach to the detection of a possible directional motion of foci relative to the center of mass of a chromosome territory. The accuracy of the analysis was tested using simulated data sets that closely mirrored the experimental setup and using microparticles of known size. Application of the analysis tools to experimental data showed that mutual diffusion-like movements between foci located on different chromosomes were more pronounced than inside the territories. In the time range observed, movements of individual foci could best be described by a random diffusion process. The statistical test for joint directed motion of several foci inside chromosome territories revealed that foci occasionally switched from random to directional motion inside the territories.

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