, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 93-106

Evidence for a nuclear compartment of transcription and splicing located at chromosome domain boundaries

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Abstract

The nuclear topography of splicing snRNPs, mRNA transcripts and chromosome domains in various mammalian cell types are described. The visualization of splicing snRNPs, defined by the Sm antigen, and coiled bodies, revealed distinctly different distribution patterns in these cell types. Heat shock experiments confirmed that the distribution patterns also depend on physiological parameters. Using a combination of fluorescencein situ hybridization and immunodetection protocols, individual chromosome domains were visualized simultaneously with the Sm antigen or the transcript of an integrated human papilloma virus genome. Three-dimensional analysis of fluorescence-stained target regions was performed by confocal laser scanning microscopy. RNA transcripts and components of the splicing machinery were found to be generally excluded from the interior of the territories occupied by the individual chromosomes. Based on these findings we present a model for the functional compartmentalization of the cell nucleus. According to this model the space between chromosome domains, including the surface areas of these domains, defines a three-dimensional network-like compartment, termed the interchromosome domain (ICD) compartment, in which transcription and splicing of mRNA occurs.