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Habermann, Felix A.; Cremer, Marion; Walter, Joachim; Kreth, Gregor; Hase, Johann von; Bauer, Karin; Wienberg, Johannes; Cremer, Christoph; Cremer, Thomas; Solovei, Irina (2001): Arrangements of macro- and microchromosomes in chicken cells. In: Chromosome Research, Vol. 9, No. 7: pp. 569-584
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Arrangements of chromosome territories in nuclei of chicken fibroblasts and neurons were analysed employing multicolour chromosome painting, laser confocal scanning microscopy and three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction. The chicken karyotype consists of 9 pairs of macrochromosomes and 30 pairs of microchromosomes. Although the latter represent only 23% of the chicken genome they contain almost 50% of its genes. We show that territories of microchromosomes in fibroblasts and neurons were clustered within the centre of the nucleus, while territories of the macrochromosomes were preferentially located towards the nuclear periphery. In contrast to these highly consistent radial arrangements, the relative arrangements of macrochromosome territories with respect to each other (side-by-side arrangements) were variable. A stringent radial arrangement of macro- and microchromosomes was found in mitotic cells. Replication labelling studies revealed a pattern of DNA replication similar to mammalian cell nuclei: gene dense, early replicating chromatin mostly represented by microchromosomes, was located within the nuclear interior, surrounded by a rim of late replicating chromatin. These results support the evolutionary conservation of several features of higher-order chromatin organization between mammals and birds despite the differences in their karyotypes.