, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 281-287

Specific staining of human chromosomes in Chinese hamster x man hybrid cell lines demonstrates interphase chromosome territories

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Summary

In spite of Carl Rabl's (1885) and Theodor Boveri's (1909) early hypothesis that chromosomes occupy discrete territories or domains within the interphase nucleus, evidence in favor pf this hypothesis has been limited and indirect so far in higher plants and animals. The alternative possibility that the chromatin fiber of single chromosomes might be extended throughout the major part of even the whole interphase nucleus has been considered for many years. In the latter case, chromosomes would only exist as discrete chromatin bodies during mitosis but not during interphase. Both possibilities are compatible with Boveri's well established paradigm of chromosome individuality. Here we show that an active human X chromosome contained as the only human chromosome in a Chinese hamster x man hybrid cell line can be visualized both in metaphse plates and in interphase nuclei after in situ hybridization with either 3H- or biotin-labeled human genomic DNA. We demonstrate that this chromosome is organized as a distinct chromatin body throughout interphase. In addition, evidence for the territorial organization of human chromosomes is also presented for another hybrid cell line containing several autosomes and the human X chromosome. These findings are discussed in the context of our present knowledge of the organization and topography of interphase chromosomes. General applications of a strategy aimed at specific staining of individual chromosomes in experimental and clinical cytogenetics are briefly considered.