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Cytogenet Cell Genet. 1989;50(2-3):116-20.

Molecular cytological differentiation of active from inactive X domains in interphase: implications for X chromosome inactivation.

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Department of Genetics, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


A fluorescence in situ hybridization method using a biotinylated DNA probe specific for the centromeric region of the human X chromosome was used to differentiate the genetically active from the inactive X in interphase cells. With this technique, we were able to interpret both the relative position and the degree of condensation of the X chromosomes within the nucleus. We first established the specificity of fluorescence labelling of the hybridized probe by comparing its location and appearance (either dense or diffuse) when associated with a sex chromatin body (SCB) in early passage normal human female fibroblasts. In these cells, where the presence of inactive X chromatin was verified by identification of a 4',6-diamidino-2-phenyl indole (DAPI)-positive SCB in 85% of the cells examined, the X chromatin fluorescence was always associated with the SCB. The signal was dense in structure in 98% and peripheral in location in 80% of the nuclei. A second type of signal, diffuse in form, was observed in 85% of the nuclei and presumably represents the location of the active X chromosome. It was located peripherally or centrally with equal frequency and was not associated with any identifiable nuclear component. This diffuse signal was the major type associated with human male fibroblasts. In rodent x human hybrid cells containing a human inactive X, the fluorescent signal was associated with an SCB-like structure in only 13% of the nuclei; it was dense in 66% of the nuclei and equally peripheral or central in location. This indicates an alteration in the interphase structure of the human inactive X chromosome in hybrid cells which may explain its known instability with respect to genetic activity in such systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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