, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 215-227

Identification of human chromosomes by DNA-binding fluorescent agents

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The distribution of DNA along metaphase chromosomes that are not excessively contracted can be visualized in the fluorescence microscope with the aid of fluorescent DNA-binding agents. Additional, characteristic details in the fluorescence patterns are obtained with fluorochromes that bind preferentially to certain chromosomal regions. The highly fluorescent alkylating agent quinacrine mustard (QM) effects discrete, fluorescent labeling of both plant and mammalian metaphase chromosomes, presumably by selective binding to guanine residues in DNA, and is also capable of intercalation in the DNA double helix. Chromosome regions fluorescing particularly strongly with QM have been demonstrated in human metaphase chromosomes 3, 13–15 and Y.

A convenient measuring technique has been developed for the rapid and accurate recording of fluorescence patterns in human metaphase chromosomes. These photoelectric recordings of the fluorescence patterns contain far greater detail than can be seen by the human eye.

The fluorescence patterns described are based on measurements of about 1,000 human metaphase chromosomes. This new technique of determining fluorescence patterns in human chromosomes should be particularly valuable for the identification of chromosomes 4–5 and the individual types in the 6–12 group. Individual, typical patterns also occur within the groups 13–15, 17–18, and 21–22.