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ACS Nano. 2018 May 22;12(5):4909-4918. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.8b01963. Epub 2018 May 4.

Super-resolution Imaging of Individual Human Subchromosomal Regions in Situ Reveals Nanoscopic Building Blocks of Higher-Order Structure.


It is widely recognized that the higher-order spatial organization of the genome, beyond the nucleosome, plays an important role in many biological processes. However, to date, direct information on even such fundamental structural details as the typical sizes and DNA content of these higher-order structures in situ is poorly characterized. Here, we examine the nanoscopic DNA organization within human nuclei using super-resolution direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) imaging and 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine click chemistry, studying single fully labeled chromosomes within an otherwise unlabeled nuclei to improve the attainable resolution. We find that, regardless of nuclear position, individual subchromosomal regions consist of three different levels of DNA compaction: (i) dispersed chromatin; (ii) nanodomains of sizes ranging tens of nanometers containing a few kilobases (kb) of DNA; and (iii) clusters of nanodomains. Interestingly, the sizes and DNA content of the nanodomains are approximately the same at the nuclear periphery, nucleolar proximity, and nuclear interior, suggesting that these nanodomains share a roughly common higher-order architecture. Overall, these results suggest that DNA compaction within the eukaryote nucleus occurs via the condensation of DNA into few-kb nanodomains of approximately similar structure, with further compaction occurring via the clustering of nanodomains.


DNA density; click chemistry; cluster analysis; dSTORM; genome structure; super-resolution


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