Focal points for chromosome condensation and decondensation revealed by three-dimensional in vivo time-lapse microscopy

Nature. 1989 Nov 16;342(6247):293-6. doi: 10.1038/342293a0.


Although the dynamic behaviour of chromosomes has been extensively studied in their condensed state during mitosis, chromosome behaviour during the transition to and from interphase has not been well documented. Previous electron microscopic studies suggest that chromosomes condense in a non-uniform fashion at the nuclear periphery. But chromosome condensation is a complicated and dynamic process and requires continuous observation in living tissues to be fully understood. Using a recently developed three-dimensional time-lapse fluorescence microscopy technique, we have observed chromosomes as they relax from telophase, through interphase, until their condensation at the next prophase. This technique has been improved to produce higher-resolution images by implementing new stereographic projection and computational processing protocols. These studies have revealed that chromosomal regions on the nuclear envelope, distinct from the centromeres and telomeres, serve as foci for the decondensation and condensation of diploid chromosomes. The relative positions of the late decondensation sites at the beginning of interphase appear to correspond to the early condensation sites at the subsequent prophase.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / physiology*
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Heterochromatin / physiology
  • Heterochromatin / ultrastructure
  • Mitosis*
  • Nuclear Envelope / physiology*
  • Nuclear Envelope / ultrastructure
  • Video Recording


  • Heterochromatin