Topological analysis of the three-dimensional (3D) chromatin nanostructure and its function in intact cell nuclei implies the use of high resolution far field light microscopy, e.g. confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). However, experimental evidence indicates that, in practice, under biologically relevant conditions, the spatial resolution of CLSM is limited to about 300 nm in the lateral direction and about 700 nm in the axial direction. To overcome this shortcoming, the use of a recently developed light microscopical approach, spectral precision distance microscopy (SPDM) is established. This approach is based on the precise localization of small labelling sites of a given target in spectrally differential images. By means of quantitative image analysis, the bary centres (intensity weighted centroid analogous to the centre of mass) of these independently registered labelling sites can be used as point markers for distance and angle measurements after appropriate calibration of optical aberrations (here, polychromatic shifts). In combination with specific labelling of very small chromatin target sites with dyes of different spectral signatures by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), SPDM presently allows us to analyse the nuclear topology in three-dimensionally conserved nuclei with a 'resolution equivalent', many times smaller than the conventional optical resolution. Chronic myelogeneous leukaemia (CML) is genetically characterized by the fusion of parts of the BCR and ABL genes on chromosomes 22 and 9, respectively. In most cases, the fusion leads to a translocation t(9; 22) producing the Philadelphia chromosome. SPDM was applied to analyse the 3D chromatin structure of the BCR region on the intact chromosome 22 and the BCR-ABL fusion gene on the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph) by using a new triple-colour FISH protocol: two different DNA probes were used to detect the BCR region and the third DNA probe was used to identify the location of the ABL gene. Consistent 3D distance measurements down to values considerably smaller than 100 nm were performed. The angle distributions between the three labelled sites on the Philadelphia chromosome territory were compared to two state-of-the-art computer models of nuclear chromatin structure. Significant differences between measured and simulated angle distributions were obtained, indicating a complex and non-random angle distribution.
- 3D precision distance measurements
- Chromatin nanostructure
- Confocal laser scanning microscopy
- Multicolour FISH