The influence of chromosome density variations on the increase in nuclear disorder strength in carcinogenesis

Phys Biol. 2011 Feb;8(1):015004. doi: 10.1088/1478-3975/8/1/015004. Epub 2011 Feb 7.


Microscopic structural changes have long been observed in cancer cells and used as a marker in cancer diagnosis. Recent development of an optical technique, partial-wave spectroscopy (PWS), enabled more sensitive detection of nanoscale structural changes in early carcinogenesis in terms of the disorder strength related to density variations. These nanoscale alterations precede the well-known microscopic morphological changes. We investigate the influence of nuclear density variations due to chromosome condensation on changes of disorder strength by computer simulations of model chromosomes. Nuclear configurations with different degrees of chromosome condensation are realized from simulations of decondensing chromosomes and the disorder strength is calculated for these nuclear configurations. We found that the disorder strength increases significantly for configurations with slightly more condensed chromosomes. Coupled with PWS measurements, the simulation results suggest that the chromosome condensation and the resulting spatial density inhomogeneity may represent one of the earliest events in carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Chromosomes, Human*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods*