Localization of the gene-richest and the gene-poorest isochores in the interphase nuclei of mammals and birds

Gene. 2002 Oct 30;300(1-2):169-78. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(02)01038-7.


At a resolution of 850 bands, human chromosomes comprise two subsets of bands, the GC-richest H3(+) and the GC-poorest L1(+) bands, accounting for about 17 and 26%, respectively, of all bands. The former are a subset of the R bands and the latter are a subset of the G bands. These bands showed the highest and the lowest gene densities, respectively, as well as a number of other distinct features. Here we report that human and chicken interphase nuclei are characterized by the following features. (1) The gene-richest/GC-richest chromosomal regions are predominantly distributed in internal locations, whereas the gene-poorest/GC-poorest DNA regions are close to the nuclear envelope. (2) The interphase chromosomes seem to be characterized by a polar arrangement, because the gene-richest/GC-richest bands and the gene-poorest/GC-poorest bands are predominantly located in the distal and proximal regions, respectively, of chromosomes, and because interphase chromosomes are extremely long. While this polar arrangement is evident in the larger chromosomes, it is not displayed by the chicken microchromosomes and by some small human chromosomes, namely by chromosomes that are almost only composed by GC-rich or by GC-poor DNA. (3) The gene-richest chromosomal regions display a much more spread-out conformation compared to the gene-poorest regions in human nuclei. This finding has interesting implications for the formation of GC-rich isochores of warm-blooded vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Composition
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics*
  • Chickens
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 12 / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 6 / genetics
  • GC Rich Sequence / genetics*
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • Interphase / genetics*
  • Isochores / chemistry
  • Isochores / genetics*
  • Metaphase / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Isochores