Modifications of the chromatin arrangement induced by ethidium bromide in isolated nuclei, analyzed by electron microscopy and flow cytometry.

P. Santi, S. Papa, R. del Coco, E. Falcieri, N. Zini, F. Marinelli, N. M. Maraldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Ethidium bromide (EB) is widely used for investigating the DNA conformation in chromatin both with conventional and cytofluorimetric techniques. Since the interaction of the dye with DNA should result in structural deformations which can be different in isolated or in situ chromatin, a study has been performed on the effects caused by different amounts of EB and the analogous propidium iodide on isolated nuclei, in which chromatin maintains its native relationships with the other nuclear structures (envelope, nucleolus, interchromatin RNP, nuclear matrix). The results obtained by comparing ultrastructural observations in thin sections and in freeze-fracturing with conformational analysis in multiparameter flow cytometry indicate that the phenanthridinic fluorochromes, especially at the high concentrations used for cytofluorimetric analyses, cause deep rearrangements of the chromatin in situ. These effects consist both in aggregation and condensation of the fibers into the dense chromatin domains, and in an increase of the supernucleosomal configuration associated with an enlargement of interchromatin spaces in which the RNP particles appear particularly evident. These results, discussed with those available on isolated chromatin, suggest that any unwinding effect of the intercalating dyes on the DNA cause a general condensation of chromatin as a consequence of the constraints which characterize the organization of the chromatin inside the nucleus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalBiology of the cell / under the auspices of the European Cell Biology Organization
Volume59
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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