We succeeded to visualize the chromoneme or a filamentous chromatin structure, with the mean thickness 0.1–0.2 µm, as a higher level of chromatin compactization in animal and plant cells at different stages of chromosome condensation at mitotic prophase and during chromatid decondensation at telophase. Under the natural conditions, chromoneme elements are not detected in the most condensed chromatin of metaphase chromosomes on ultrathin sections. We studied the ultrastructure and behavior of the chromatin of mitotic chromosomes in situ in cultured mouse L-197 cells under the conditions selectively demonstrating the chromoneme structure of the mitotic chromosomes in the presence of Ca2+. Loosely packaged dense chromatin bands, ca. 100 nm in diameter, chromonemes, were detected in chromosome arms in a solution containing 3 mM CaCl2. When transferred in a hypotonic solution containing 10 mM tris-HCl, these chromosomes swelled, lost the chromoneme level of structure, and rapidly transformed in loose aggregates of elementary DNP fibrils, 30 nm in diameter. After this decondensation in the low ionic strength solution, the chromoneme structure of mitotic chromosomes was restored when they were transferred in a Ca2+ containing solution. The morphological characteristics of the chromoneme and pattern of its packaging in the chromosome were preserved. However, when the mitotic cells with chromosomes, in which the chromoneme structure was visualized with the help of 3 mM CaCl2, were treated with a photosensitizer, ethidium bromide, and illuminate with a light with the wavelength 460 nm, chromatic decondensation under the hypotonic solution was not observed. The chromoneme elements in a stabilized chromatin of the mitotic chromosome preserved specific interconnection and the general pattern of their packaging in the chromatid was also preserved. The chromoneme elements in the chromosomes stabilized by light preserved their density and diameter even in a 0.6 M NaCl solution, which normally leads to chromoneme destruction. An even more rigid treatment of the stabilized chromosomes with a 2 M NaCl solution, which normally fully decondenses the chromosomes, made it possible to detect a 3D reticular skeleton devoid of any axial structures.
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 18, 2005
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