Comparison of triple helical COMBO-FISH and standard FISH by means of quantitative microscopic image analysis of abl/bcr positions in cell nuclei.
ABSTRACT In this study, a novel DNA fluorescence labelling technique, called triple helical COMBO-FISH (Combinatorial Oligo Fluorescence In Situ Hybridisation), was compared to the standard FISH (Fluorescence In Situ Hybridisation by means of commercially available probe kits) by quantitative evaluation of the nuclear position of the hybridisation signals of the Abelson murine leukaemia (abl) region and the breakpoint cluster region (bcr) in 3D-conserved cell nuclei of lymphocytes and CML blood cells. Two sets of 31 homopyrimidine oligonucleotides each, corresponding to co-localising sequences in the abl region of chromosome 9 and in the bcr region of chromosome 22 were synthesised. Probe types and sizes (in bases) as well as the binding mechanisms of both FISH techniques were completely different. In accordance to established findings that cell type specific radial positioning of chromosomes and sub-chromosomal elements is evolutionarily conserved, no significant difference was found between the two FISH techniques for the radial localisation of the barycentre of the analysed genomic loci. Thermal denaturation and hypotonic treatment of cell nuclei subjected to standard FISH, however, led to different absolute radii and volumes of the cell nuclei, in comparison to the quantities determined for the triple helical COMBO-FISH technique; the chromatin appears to shrink in laterally enlarged, flat nuclei. Consequently, the absolute distances of the homologous labelled sites shifted to greater values. For precise quantitative microscopic analysis of genomic loci, fluorescence labelling procedures are recommended that well maintain the native chromatin topology. Triple helical COMBO-FISH may offer such an approach.