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Exp Cell Res. 2000 Apr 10;256(1):131-9.

Nuclear topology of murine, cerebellar Purkinje neurons: changes as a function of development.

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Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A8, Canada.


The interphase nucleus is a structurally ordered, three-dimensional structure, in which specific chromatin domains occupy distinct spatial positions that can, in turn, be modified with changes in cell function. A fundamental goal in developmental neurobiology is the identification of mechanisms that dictate the orderly expression of genes in a cell-specific manner. Given that different neuronal populations feature a characteristic spatial topology of centromeric sequences, the positioning of specific DNA sequences may constitute such a mechanism. We tested the hypothesis that the cell-specific nuclear topology in fully differentiated neurons is acquired before or during that stage at which neuron-specific sequences are first expressed. For this, we assessed the number and spatial distribution of centromeric domains in the murine, cerebellar Purkinje neuron as a function of postnatal development. Centromeric domains were localized by immunofluorescence of centromere-associated kinetochore proteins and visualized by confocal microscopy. Kinetochores are known to cluster in Purkinje neurons. Thus, the number of signals discerned is always less than the chromosome complement of the species. The number of signals observed in adults (10.8 +/- 0.46) (mean +/- SEM) is established by postnatal day 15 (P15), after a transient decrease from 11.44 +/- 0.44 at P0 to 8.78 +/- 0.24 at P3. The distribution of signals characteristic of the adult, with the majority located at the nucleolus, is established by P5 and is associated with a decrease in the fraction of signals at the nuclear periphery. These changes are temporally associated with the onset of processes such as dendritic differentiation and synaptic maturation and might serve the process of differentiation by placing specific sequences into transcriptionally competent, nuclear sites.

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