Spectral karyotyping refines cytogenetic diagnostics of constitutional chromosomal abnormalities

Hum Genet. 1997 Dec;101(3):255-62. doi: 10.1007/s004390050626.


Karyotype analysis by chromosome banding is the standard method for identifying numerical and structural chromosomal aberrations in pre- and postnatal cytogenetics laboratories. However, the chromosomal origins of markers, subtle translocations, or complex chromosomal rearrangements are often difficult to identify with certainty. We have developed a novel karyotyping technique, termed spectral karyotyping (SKY), which is based on the simultaneous hybridization of 24 chromosome-specific painting probes labeled with different fluorochromes or fluorochrome combinations. The measurement of defined emission spectra by means of interferometer-based spectral imaging allows for the definitive discernment of all human chromosomes in different colors. Here, we report the comprehensive karyotype analysis of 16 samples from different cytogenetic laboratories by merging conventional cytogenetic methodology and spectral karyotyping. This approach could become a powerful tool for the cytogeneticists, because it results in a considerable improvement of karyotype analysis by identifying chromosomal aberrations not previously detected by G-banding alone. Advantages, limitations, and future directions of spectral karyotyping are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Aberrations / diagnosis*
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Color
  • Cytogenetics / methods*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Karyotyping / methods*
  • Metaphase
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence


  • Fluorescent Dyes