Visualizing DNA domains and sequences by microscopy: a fifty-year history of molecular cytogenetics.

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This short review presents a historical perspective of chromosome research during the last 50 years. It shows how molecular knowledge and technology of DNA entered cytogenetics step by step making it now daily practice in almost every modem chromosome lab. A crucial milestone in these decades has been the development of in situ protocols by Pardue and Gall, among others, initially only with isotopic labels, and without fluorescence microscopy and sophisticated detection systems. But these very first in situ hybridizations played a decisive role in the discovery of chromosome banding profiles, which were obtained under specific chemical, physical, or enzymatic conditions, thus effecting stainability of specific chromosome regions. In the decades thereafter, numerous technical improvements were achieved leading to complex multi-colour fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) protocols for mammals, plants, and insects. Highly improved detection systems of the FISH signals further allowed detection of DNA targets of up to 50 bp, whereas other protocols, which were developed to stretch chromatin fibres to the full length of native DNA, improved spatial resolution of adjacent targets in the light microscope to 1 kb.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-946
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • in-situ hybridization
  • human-chromosomes
  • arabidopsis-thaliana
  • fish
  • localization
  • amplification
  • fibers


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