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Journal: Chromosome research : an international journal on the molecular, supramolecular and evolutionary aspects of chromosome biology


The vast majority of the mouse and human genomes consist of repetitive elements (REs), while protein-coding sequences occupy only ∼3 %. It has been reported that the Y chromosomes of both species are highly populated with REs although at present, their complete sequences are not available in any public database. The recent update of the mouse genome database (Build 38.1) from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) indicates that mouse chromosome Y is ∼92 Mb in size, which is substantially larger than the ∼16 Mb reported previously (Build 37.2). In this study, we examined how REs are arranged in mouse chromosome Y (Build 38.1) using REMiner-II, a RE mining program. A combination of diverse REs and RE arrays formed large clusters (up to ∼28 Mb in size) and most of them were directly or inversely related. Interestingly, the RE population of human chromosome Y (NCBI Build 37.2-current) was less dense, and the RE/RE array clusters were not evident in comparison to mouse chromosome Y. The annotated gene loci were distributed in five different regions and most of them were surrounded by unique RE arrays. In particular, tandem RE arrays were embedded into the introns of two adjacent gene loci. The findings from this study indicate that the large and interrelated clusters of REs and RE arrays predominantly represent the unique organizational pattern of mouse chromosome Y. The potential interactions among the clusters, which are populated with various interrelated REs and RE arrays, may play a role in the structural configuration and function of mouse chromosome Y.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Human genome, Genome, Chromosome, Chromosomes, Y chromosome, XY sex-determination system


The cyclin-dependent kinase CDK11(p58) is specifically expressed at G2/M phase. CDK11(p58) depletion leads to different cell cycle defects such as mitotic arrest, failure in centriole duplication and centrosome maturation, and premature sister chromatid separation. We report that upon CDK11 depletion, loss of sister chromatid cohesion occurs during mitosis but not during G2 phase. CDK11(p58) depletion prevents Bub1 and Shugoshin 1 recruitment but has no effect on the dimethylation of histone H3 lysine 4 at centromeres. We also report that a construct expressing a kinase dead version of CDK11(p58) fails to prevent CDK11 depletion-induced sister chromatid separation, showing that CDK11(p58) kinase activity is required for protection of sister chromatid cohesion at centromeres during mitosis. Thus, CDK11(p58) kinase activity appears to be involved in early events in the establishment of the centromere protection machinery.

Concepts: Histone, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Centromere, Mitosis, Meiosis, Chromatid, Sister chromatids


Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) gene codes for 18S, 5.8S, and 28S rRNA form tandem repetitive clusters, which occupy distinct chromosomal loci called nucleolar organizer regions (NORs). The number and position of NORs on chromosomes are genetic characteristics of the species although within a cell, the NOR sizes can significantly vary due to loss or multiplication of rDNA copies. In the current study, we used mouse L929 fibroblasts, the aneuploid cells which differ in the FISH- and Ag-NOR numbers, to examine whether the parental NOR variability is inherited in clones. By statistical analysis, we showed that the cloned fibroblasts were able to restore the NOR numerical characteristics of the parental cells after long-term culturing. These results support the idea that mammalian cells may have mechanisms which control the number and activity of NORs at the population level. In L929 fibroblasts, we also regularly observed laterally asymmetry of FISH-NORs that evidenced in an unequal distribution of the mother rDNA copies between the daughter cells in mitosis.


Expansion microscopy (ExM) is a method to magnify physically a specimen with preserved ultrastructure. It has the potential to explore structural features beyond the diffraction limit of light. The procedure has been successfully used for different animal species, from isolated macromolecular complexes through cells to tissue slices. Expansion of plant-derived samples is still at the beginning, and little is known, whether the chromatin ultrastructure becomes altered by physical expansion. In this study, we expanded isolated barley nuclei and compared whether ExM can provide a structural view of chromatin comparable with super-resolution microscopy. Different fixation and denaturation/digestion conditions were tested to maintain the chromatin ultrastructure. We achieved up to ~4.2-times physically expanded nuclei corresponding to a maximal resolution of ~50-60 nm when imaged by wild-field (WF) microscopy. By applying structured illumination microscopy (SIM, super-resolution) doubling the WF resolution, the chromatin structures were observed at a resolution of ~25-35 nm. WF microscopy showed a preserved nucleus shape and nucleoli. Moreover, we were able to detect chromatin domains, invisible in unexpanded nuclei. However, by applying SIM, we observed that the preservation of the chromatin ultrastructure after the expansion was not complete and that the majority of the tested conditions failed to keep the ultrastructure. Nevertheless, using expanded nuclei, we localized successfully centromere repeats by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENH3 by indirect immunolabelling. However, although these repeats and proteins were localized at the correct position within the nuclei (indicating a Rabl orientation), their ultrastructural arrangement was impaired.


Changes in environmental temperature influence cellular processes and their dynamics, and thus affect the life cycle of organisms that are unable to control their cell/body temperature. Meiotic recombination is the cellular process essential for producing healthy haploid gametes by providing physical links (chiasmata) between homologous chromosomes to guide their accurate segregation. Additionally, meiotic recombination-initiated by programmed DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs)-can generate genetic diversity and, therefore, is a driving force of evolution. Environmental temperature influencing meiotic recombination outcome thus may be a crucial determinant of reproductive success and genetic diversity. Indeed, meiotic recombination frequency in fungi, plants and invertebrates changes with temperature. In most organisms, these temperature-induced changes in meiotic recombination seem to be mediated through the meiosis-specific chromosome axis organization, the synaptonemal complex in particular. The fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe does not possess a synaptonemal complex. Thus, we tested how environmental temperature modulates meiotic recombination frequency in the absence of a fully-fledged synaptonemal complex. We show that intragenic recombination (gene conversion) positively correlates with temperature within a certain range, especially at meiotic recombination hotspots. In contrast, crossover recombination, which manifests itself as chiasmata, is less affected. Based on our observations, we suggest that, in addition to changes in DSB frequency, DSB processing could be another temperature-sensitive step causing temperature-induced recombination rate alterations.


Wild-type dojo loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus) commonly reproduces bisexually as a gonochoristic diploid (2n = 50), but gynogenetically reproducing clonal diploid lines (2n = 50) exist in certain districts in Japan. Clones have been considered to develop from past hybridization event(s) between two genetically diverse groups, A and B, within the species. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analyses using the repetitive sequence “ManDra” as a probe clearly distinguished 25 chromosomes derived from group B out of a total of 50 diploid chromosomes of the clone, providing strong molecular cytogenetic evidence of its hybrid origin. In meiosis, diploid wild-type showed 25 bivalents, while diploid clones revealed 50 bivalents, indicating the presence of 100 chromosomes. In meiotic chromosome spreads in sex-reversed clonal males, ManDra signals were detected in 25 out of 50 bivalents, and only one out of two bivalents possessing major ribosomal RNA coding regions exhibited two positive ManDra signals. In clonal females, ManDra signals were detected in approximately 25 out of 50 bivalents. Thus, unreduced gametes should be generated by the pairing between sister chromosomes doubled from each ancestral chromosome from the different groups by premeiotic endomitosis. Sister chromosome pairing should assure production of unreduced isogenic clonal gametes due to the absence of the influence of recombination or crossing over.


Urothelial carcinoma (UC), also referred to as transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), is the most common bladder malignancy in both human and canine populations. In human UC, numerous studies have demonstrated the prevalence of chromosomal imbalances. Although the histopathology of the disease is similar in both species, studies evaluating the genomic profile of canine UC are lacking, limiting the discovery of key comparative molecular markers associated with driving UC pathogenesis. In the present study, we evaluated 31 primary canine UC biopsies by oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization (oaCGH). Results highlighted the presence of three highly recurrent numerical aberrations: gain of dog chromosome (CFA) 13 and 36 and loss of CFA 19. Regional gains of CFA 13 and 36 were present in 97 % and 84 % of cases, respectively, and losses on CFA 19 were present in 77 % of cases. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), using targeted bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones and custom Agilent SureFISH probes, was performed to detect and quantify these regions in paraffin-embedded biopsy sections and urine-derived urothelial cells. The data indicate that these three aberrations are potentially diagnostic of UC. Comparison of our canine oaCGH data with that of 285 human cases identified a series of shared copy number aberrations. Using an informatics approach to interrogate the frequency of copy number aberrations across both species, we identified those that had the highest joint probability of association with UC. The most significant joint region contained the gene PABPC1, which should be considered further for its role in UC progression. In addition, cross-species filtering of genome-wide copy number data highlighted several genes as high-profile candidates for further analysis, including CDKN2A, S100A8/9, and LRP1B. We propose that these common aberrations are indicative of an evolutionarily conserved mechanism of pathogenesis and harbor genes key to urothelial neoplasia, warranting investigation for diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic applications.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cancer, Molecular biology, Carcinoma in situ, Pathology, Chromosome


Rumex hastatulus is the North American endemic dioecious plant with heteromorphic sex chromosomes. It is differentiated into two chromosomal races: Texas (T) race characterised by a simple XX/XY sex chromosome system and North Carolina (NC) race with a polymorphic XX/XY1Y2 sex chromosome system. The gross karyotype morphology in NC race resembles the derived type, but chromosomal changes that occurred during its evolution are poorly understood. Our C-banding/DAPI and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) experiments demonstrated that Y chromosomes of both races are enriched in DAPI-positive sequences and that the emergence of polymorphic sex chromosome system was accompanied by the break of ancestral Y chromosome and switch in the localization of 5S rDNA, from autosomes to sex chromosomes (X and Y2). Two contrasting domains were detected within North Carolina Y chromosomes: the older, highly heterochromatinised, inherited from the original Y chromosome and the younger, euchromatic, representing translocated autosomal material. The flow-cytometric DNA estimation showed ∼3.5 % genome downsizing in the North Carolina race. Our results are in contradiction to earlier reports on the lack of heterochromatin within Y chromosomes of this species and enable unambiguous identification of autosomes involved in the autosome-heterosome translocation, providing useful chromosome landmarks for further studies on the karyotype and sex chromosome differentiation in this species.

Concepts: Cell nucleus, Human, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Chromosomes, Aneuploidy, Y chromosome, Karyotype


The first centromeric protein identified in any species was CENP-A, a divergent member of the histone H3 family that was recognised by autoantibodies from patients with scleroderma-spectrum disease. It has recently been suggested to rename this protein CenH3. Here, we argue that the original name should be maintained both because it is the basis of a long established nomenclature for centromere proteins and because it avoids confusion due to the presence of canonical histone H3 at centromeres.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Histone, Chromosome, Centromere, Nucleosome, Histone H3


Studies of the structural and functional role of chromosomes in cytogenetics have spanned more than 10 decades. In this work, we take advantage of the coherent X-rays available at the latest synchrotron sources to extract the individual masses of all 46 chromosomes of metaphase human B and T cells using hard X-ray ptychography. We have produced ‘X-ray karyotypes’ of both heavy metal-stained and unstained spreads to determine the gain or loss of genetic material upon low-level X-ray irradiation doses due to radiation damage. The experiments were performed at the I-13 beamline, Diamond Light Source, Didcot, UK, using the phase-sensitive X-ray ptychography method.