Highlighted publication: do Vale Martins et al. (2019), Nature Communications.

Target-specific DNA Fluorescent in situ Hybridization (DNA FISH) is a powerful technique for the
detection of specific chromosomal loci.

Chromatids of mitotic chromosomes were suggested to coil into a helix in early cytological studies and this assumption was recently supported by chromosome conformation capture (3C) sequencing. Still, direct differential visualization of a condensed chromatin fibre confirming the helical model was lacking. Here, we combined Hi-C analysis of purified metaphase chromosomes, biopolymer modelling and spatial structured illumination microscopy of large fluorescently labeled chromosome segments to reveal the chromonema – a helically-wound, 400 nm thick chromatin thread forming barley mitotic chromatids. Chromatin from adjacent turns of the helix intermingles due to the stochastic positioning of chromatin loops inside the chromonema. Helical turn size varies along chromosome length, correlating with chromatin density. Constraints on the observable dimensions of sister chromatid exchanges further supports the helical chromonema model.

Centromeres in the legume genera Pisum and Lathyrus exhibit unique morphological characteristics, including extended primary constrictions and multiple separate domains of centromeric chromatin. These so-called metapolycentromeres resemble an intermediate form between monocentric and holocentric types, and therefore provide a great opportunity for studying the transitions between different types of centromere organizations. However, because of the exceedingly large and highly repetitive nature of metapolycentromeres, highly contiguous assemblies needed for these studies are lacking. Here, we report on the assembly and analysis of a 177.6 Mb region of pea ( Pisum sativum ) chromosome 6, including the 81.6 Mb centromere region (CEN6) and adjacent chromosome arms. Genes, DNA methylation profiles, and most of the repeats were uniformly distributed within the centromere, and their densities in CEN6 and chromosome arms were similar. The exception was an accumulation of satellite DNA in CEN6, where it formed multiple arrays up to 2 Mb in length. Centromeric chromatin, characterized by the presence of the CENH3 protein, was predominantly associated with arrays of three different satellite repeats; however, five other satellites present in CEN6 lacked CENH3. The presence of CENH3 chromatin was found to determine the spatial distribution of the respective satellites during the cell cycle. Finally, oligo-FISH painting experiments, performed using probes specifically designed to label the genomic regions corresponding to CEN6 in Pisum , Lathyrus , and Vicia species, revealed that metapolycentromeres evolved via the expansion of centromeric chromatin into neighboring chromosomal regions and the accumulation of novel satellite repeats. However, in some of these species, centromere evolution also involved chromosomal translocations and centromere repositioning.

Presented at PAG 2023. myTags® Custom probes utilize sophisticated design to eliminate nonspecific elements that BAC-derived probes typically retain.

Nucleus, chromatin, and chromosome organization studies heavily rely on fluorescence microscopy imaging to elucidate the distribution and abundance of structural and regulatory components. Three-dimensional (3D) image stacks are a source of quantitative data on signal intensity level and distribution and on the type and shape of distribution patterns in space. Their analysis can lead to novel insights that are otherwise missed in qualitative-only analyses. Quantitative image analysis requires specific software and workflows for image rendering, processing, segmentation, setting measurement points and reference frames and exporting target data before further numerical processing and plotting. These tasks often call for the development of customized computational scripts and require an expertise that is not broadly available to the community of experimental biologists. Yet, the increasing accessibility of high- and super-resolution imaging methods fuels the demand for user-friendly image analysis workflows. Here, we provide a compendium of strategies developed by participants of a training school from the COST action INDEPTH to analyze the spatial distribution of nuclear and chromosomal signals from 3D image stacks, acquired by diffraction-limited confocal microscopy and super-resolution microscopy methods (SIM and STED). While the examples make use of one specific commercial software package, the workflows can easily be adapted to concurrent commercial and open-source software. The aim is to encourage biologists lacking custom-script-based expertise to venture into quantitative image analysis and to better exploit the discovery potential of their images.

Abstract Background Karyotype dynamics driven by chromosomal rearrangements has long been considered as a fundamental question in the evolutionary genetics. Saccharum spontaneum , the most primitive and complex species in the genus Saccharum , has reportedly undergone at least two major chromosomal rearrangements, however, its karyotypic evolution remains unclear. Results In this study, four representative accessions, i.e., hypothetical diploid sugarcane ancestor (sorghum, x = 10), Sa. spontaneum Np-X (x = 10, tetraploid), 2012–46 (x = 9, hexaploid) and AP85–441 (x = 8, tetraploid), were selected for karyotype evolution studies. A set of oligonucleotide (oligo)-based barcode probes was developed based on the sorghum genome, which allowed universal identification of all chromosomes from sorghum and Sa. spontaneum . By comparative FISH assays, we reconstructed the karyotype evolutionary history and discovered that although chromosomal rearrangements resulted in greater variation in relative lengths of some chromosomes, all chromosomes maintained a conserved metacentric structure. Additionally, we found that the barcode oligo probe was not applicable for chromosome identification in both Sa. robustum and Sa. officinarum species, suggesting that sorghum is more distantly related to Sa. robustum and Sa. officinarum compared with Sa. spontaneum species. Conclusions Our study demonstrated that the barcode oligo-FISH is an efficient tool for chromosome identification and karyotyping research, and expanded our understanding of the karyotypic and chromosomal evolution in the genus Saccharum .

The three-dimensional (3D) genome structure plays a fundamental role in gene regulation and cellular functions. Recent studies in 3D genomics inferred the very basic functional chromatin folding structures known as chromatin loops, the long-range chromatin interactions that are mediated by protein factors and dynamically extruded by cohesin. We combined the use of FISH staining of a very short (33 kb) chromatin fragment, interferometric photoactivated localization microscopy (iPALM), and traveling salesman problem-based heuristic loop reconstruction algorithm from an image of the one of the strongest CTCF-mediated chromatin loops in human lymphoblastoid cells. In total, we have generated thirteen good quality images of the target chromatin region with 2–22 nm oligo probe localization precision. We visualized the shape of the single chromatin loops with unprecedented genomic resolution which allowed us to study the structural heterogeneity of chromatin looping. We were able to compare the physical distance maps from all reconstructed image-driven computational models with contact frequencies observed by ChIA-PET and Hi-C genomic-driven methods to examine the concordance between single cell imaging and population based genomic data.

Meiotic recombination is initiated by the SPORULATION 11 (SPO11)–triggered formation of double-strand breaks (DSBs) that usually occur in open chromatin with active transcriptional features in many eukaryotes. However, gene transcription at DSB sites appears to be detrimental for repair, but the regulatory mechanisms governing transcription at meiotic DSB sites are largely undefined in plants. Here, we demonstrate that the largest DNA polymerase epsilon subunit POL2A interacts with SU(VAR)3 to 9 homologs SUVH2 and SUVH9. N-SIM (structured illumination microscopy) observation shows that the colocalization of SUVH2 with the meiotic DSB marker γ-H2AX is dependent on POL2A. RNA-seq of male meiocytes demonstrates that POL2A and SUVH2 jointly repress the expression of 865 genes, which have several known characteristics associated with meiotic DSB sites. Bisulfite-seq and small RNA-seq of male meiocytes support the idea that the silencing of these genes by POL2A and SUVH2/9 is likely independent of CHH methylation or 24-nt siRNA accumulation. Moreover, pol2a suvh2 suvh9 triple mutants have more severe defects in meiotic recombination and fertility compared with either pol2a or suvh2 suvh9 . Our results not only identify a epigenetic regulatory mechanism for gene silencing in male meiocytes but also reveal roles for DNA polymerase and SUVH2/9 beyond their classic functions in mitosis.

Thinopyrum intermedium possesses many desirable agronomic traits that make it a valuable genetic source for wheat improvement. The precise identification of individual chromosomes of allohexaploid Th. intermedium is a challenge due to its three sub-genomic constitutions with complex evolutionary ancestries. The non-denaturing fluorescent in situ hybridization (ND-FISH) using tandem-repeat oligos, including Oligo-B11 and Oligo-pDb12H, effectively distinguished the St, J and JS genomes, while Oligo-FISH painting, based on seven oligonucleotide pools derived from collinear regions between barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), was able to identify each linkage group of the Th. intermedium chromosomes. We subsequently established the first karyotype of Th. intermedium with individual chromosome recognition using sequential ND-FISH and Oligo-FISH painting. The chromosome constitutions of 14 wheat–Th. intermedium partial amphiploids and addition lines were characterized. Distinct intergenomic chromosome rearrangements were revealed among Th. intermedium chromosomes in these amphiploids and addition lines. The precisely defined karyotypes of these wheat–Th. intermedium derived lines may be helpful for further study on chromosome evolution, chromatin introgression and wheat breeding programs.