Comparative mapping of 5S and 45S rDNA by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) technique is an excellent tool to determine cytogenetic relationships among closely related species.

Metazoan genomes are spatially organized at multiple scales, from packaging of DNA around individual nucleosomes to segregation of whole chromosomes into distinct territories. At the intermediate scale of kilobases to megabases, which encompasses the sizes of genes, gene clusters and regulatory domains, the three-dimensional (3D) organization of DNA is implicated in multiple gene regulatory mechanisms, but understanding this organization remains a challenge. At this scale, the genome is partitioned into domains of different epigenetic states that are essential for regulating gene expression. Here we investigate the 3D organization of chromatin in different epigenetic states using super-resolution imaging. We classified genomic domains in Drosophila cells into transcriptionally active, inactive or Polycomb-repressed states, and observed distinct chromatin organizations for each state. All three types of chromatin domains exhibit power-law scaling between their physical sizes in 3D and their domain lengths, but each type has a distinct scaling exponent. Polycomb-repressed domains show the densest packing and most intriguing chromatin folding behaviour, in which chromatin packing density increases with domain length. Distinct from the self-similar organization displayed by transcriptionally active and inactive chromatin, the Polycomb-repressed domains are characterized by a high degree of chromatin intermixing within the domain. Moreover, compared to inactive domains, Polycomb-repressed domains spatially exclude neighbouring active chromatin to a much stronger degree. Computational modelling and knockdown experiments suggest that reversible chromatin interactions mediated by Polycomb-group proteins play an important role in these unique packaging properties of the repressed chromatin. Taken together, our super-resolution images reveal distinct chromatin packaging for different epigenetic states at the kilobase-to-megabase scale, a length scale that is directly relevant to genome regulation.

The 5S and 45S rDNA sites are useful chromosome landmarks and can provide valuable information about karyotype evolution and species interrelationships. In this study, we employed fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to determine the number and chromosomal location of 5S and 45S rDNA loci in 8 diploid Cucumis species. Two oligonucleotide painting probes specific for the rDNA-bearing chromosomes in C. melo were hybridized to other Cucumis species in order to investigate the homeologies among the rDNA-carrying chromosomes in Cucumis species. The analyzed diploid species showed 3 types of rDNA distribution patterns, which provided clear cytogenetic evidence on the divergence between C. melo and wild diploid African Cucumis species. The present results not only show species interrelationships in the genus Cucumis, but the rDNA FISH patterns can also be used as cytological markers for the discrimination of closely related species. The data will be helpful for breeders to choose the most suitable species from various wild species for improvement of cultivated melon.

Chromosome-specific painting is a powerful technique in molecular cytogenetic and genome research. We developed an oligonucleotide (oligo)-based chromosome painting technique in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) that will be applicable in any plant species with a sequenced genome. Oligos specific to a single chromosome of cucumber were identified using a newly developed bioinformatic pipeline and then massively synthesized de novo in parallel. The synthesized oligos were amplified and labeled with biotin or digoxigenin for use in fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). We developed three different probes with each containing 23,000–27,000 oligos. These probes spanned 8.3–17 Mb of DNA on targeted cucumber chromosomes and had the densities of 1.5–3.2 oligos per kilobases. These probes produced FISH signals on a single cucumber chromosome and were used to paint homeologous chromosomes in other Cucumis species diverged from cucumber for up to 12 million years. The bulked oligo probes allowed us to track a single chromosome in early stages during meiosis. We were able to precisely map the pairing between cucumber chromosome 7 and chromosome 1 of Cucumis hystrix in a F1 hybrid. These two homeologous chromosomes paired in 71% of prophase I cells but only 25% of metaphase I cells, which may provide an explanation of the higher recombination rates compared to the chiasma frequencies between homeologous chromosomes reported in plant hybrids.

The 4D organization of the interphase nucleus, or the 4D Nucleome (4DN), reflects a dynamical interaction between 3D genome structure and function and its relationship to phenotype. We present initial analyses of the human 4DN, capturing genome-wide structure using chromosome conformation capture and 3D imaging, and function using RNA-sequencing. We introduce a quantitative index that measures underlying topological stability of a genomic region. Our results show that structural features of genomic regions correlate with function with surprising persistence over time. Furthermore, constructing genome-wide gene-level contact maps aided in identifying gene pairs with high potential for coregulation and colocalization in a manner consistent with expression via transcription factories. We additionally use 2D phase planes to visualize patterns in 4DN data. Finally, we evaluated gene pairs within a circadian gene module using 3D imaging, and found periodicity in the movement of clock circadian regulator and period circadian clock 2 relative to each other that followed a circadian rhythm and entrained with their expression.

Oligonucleotide microarrays allow the production of complex custom oligonucleotide libraries for nucleic acid detection–based applications such as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). We have developed a PCR-free method to make single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) fluorescent probes through an intermediate RNA library. A double-stranded oligonucleotide library is amplified by transcription to create an RNA library. Next, dye- or hapten-conjugate primers are used to reverse transcribe the RNA to produce a dye-labeled cDNA library. Finally the RNA is hydrolyzed under alkaline conditions to obtain the single-stranded fluorescent probes library. Starting from unique oligonucleotide library constructs, we present two methods to produce single-stranded probe libraries. The two methods differ in the type of reverse transcription (RT) primer, the incorporation of fluorescent dye, and the purification of fluorescent probes. The first method employs dye-labeled reverse transcription primers to produce multiple differentially single-labeled probe subsets from one microarray library. The fluorescent probes are purified from excess primers by oligonucleotide-bead capture. The second method uses an RNA:DNA chimeric primer and amino-modified nucleotides to produce amino-allyl probes. The excess primers and RNA are hydrolyzed under alkaline conditions, followed by probe purification and labeling with amino-reactive dyes. The fluorescent probes created by the combination of transcription and reverse transcription can be used for FISH and to detect any RNA and DNA targets via hybridization.

Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a powerful single-cell technique for studying nuclear structure and organization. Here we report two advances in FISH-based imaging. We first describe the in situ visualization of single-copy regions of the genome using two single-molecule super-resolution methodologies. We then introduce a robust and reliable system that harnesses single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to visually distinguish the maternal and paternal homologous chromosomes in mammalian and insect systems. Both of these new technologies are enabled by renewable, bioinformatically designed, oligonucleotide-based Oligopaint probes, which we augment with a strategy that uses secondary oligonucleotides (oligos) to produce and enhance fluorescent signals. These advances should substantially expand the capability to query parent-of-origin-specific chromosome positioning and gene expression on a cell-by-cell basis., The spatial organization of the genome within the nucleus impacts many processes. Here the authors combine oligo-based DNA FISH with single-molecule super-resolution microscopy to image single-copy genomic regions and, taking advantage of SNPs, distinguish allelic regions of homologous chromosomes.

Custom-defined oligonucleotide collections have a broad range of applications in fields of synthetic biology, targeted sequencing, and cytogenetics. Also, they are used to encode information for technologies like RNA interference, protein engineering and DNA-encoded libraries. High-throughput parallel DNA synthesis technologies developed for the manufacture of DNA microarrays can produce libraries of large numbers of different oligonucleotides, but in very limited amounts. Here, we compare three approaches to prepare large quantities of single-stranded oligonucleotide libraries derived from microarray synthesized collections. The first approach, alkaline melting of double-stranded PCR amplified libraries with a biotinylated strand captured on streptavidin coated magnetic beads results in little or no non-biotinylated ssDNA. The second method wherein the phosphorylated strand of PCR amplified libraries is nucleolyticaly hydrolyzed is recommended when small amounts of libraries are needed. The third method combining in vitro transcription of PCR amplified libraries to reverse transcription of the RNA product into single-stranded cDNA is our recommended method to produce large amounts of oligonucleotide libraries. Finally, we propose a method to remove any primer binding sequences introduced during library amplification.

A host of observations demonstrating the relationship between nuclear architecture and processes such as gene expression have led to a number of new technologies for interrogating chromosome positioning. Whereas some of these technologies reconstruct intermolecular interactions, others have enhanced our ability to visualize chromosomes in situ. Here, we describe an oligonucleotide- and PCR-based strategy for fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and a bioinformatic platform that enables this technology to be extended to any organism whose genome has been sequenced. The oligonucleotide probes are renewable, highly efficient, and able to robustly label chromosomes in cell culture, fixed tissues, and metaphase spreads. Our method gives researchers precise control over the sequences they target and allows for single and multicolor imaging of regions ranging from tens of kilobases to megabases with the same basic protocol. We anticipate this technology will lead to an enhanced ability to visualize interphase and metaphase chromosomes.