Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy as a tool to study the nanoscale organization of chromosomes

Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2011 Dec;15(6):838-44. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2011.10.004. Epub 2011 Nov 16.


Chromatin organization spans a wide range of structural complexity. Substructures at the 10-200nm scale are poorly characterized, especially in living cells, due to the limitations of electron microscopy and standard optical microscopy. Recently developed super-resolution fluorescence microscopy methods represent an exciting opportunity to access those substructures, and recent progress with these techniques has yielded insights into chromatin organization at different condensation stages. Recent studies have focused on confronting the challenges that are specific to chromatin super-resolution imaging, such as the high packing density of mitotic chromosomes and difficulties in interpreting interphase chromatin images. Building on these first results and with ongoing rapid technical advances in super-resolution fluorescence imaging there is great potential to uncover new features with unprecedented detail.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly
  • Chromosomes / chemistry
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure*
  • Escherichia coli
  • Fluorescent Dyes / analysis*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Histones / analysis
  • Humans
  • Interphase
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Histones