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J Cell Biol. 1996 Dec;135(5):1195-205.

Active and inactive genes localize preferentially in the periphery of chromosome territories.

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  • 1Abteilung Organisation komplexer Genome, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Heidelberg, Germany.


The intranuclear position of a set of genes was analyzed with respect to the territories occupied by the whole chromosomes in which these genes are localized. Genes and their respective chromosome territories were simultaneously visualized in three-dimensionally preserved nuclei applying dual color fluorescence in situ hybridization. Three coding (DMD, MYH7, and HBB) and two noncoding sequences (D1Z2 and an anonymous sequence) were analyzed in four different cell types, including cells where DMD and MYH7 are actively transcribed. Spatial analysis by confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed that the genes are preferentially located in the periphery of chromosome territories. This positioning was independent from the activity of the genes. In contrast, the non-expressed anonymous fragment was found randomly distributed or localized preferentially in the interior of the corresponding chromosome territory. Furthermore, the distribution of the analyzed genes within the territorial peripheries was found to be highly characteristic for each gene, and, again, independent from its expression. The impact of these findings with regard to the three-dimensional arrangement of the linear DNA string within chromosome territories, as well as with respect to a putative nuclear subcompartment confining gene expression, are discussed.

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