Chromosome condensation outside of mitosis: Mechanisms and new tools


  • Eisuke Gotoh,

    1. Division of Genetic Resources, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan
    2. Department of Radiology, Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
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  • Marco Durante

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Physics and INFN, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
    • Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, Università Federico II, Monte S. Angelo, Via Cintia, 80126 Napoli, Italy.
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A basic principle of cell physiology is that chromosomes condense during mitosis. However, condensation can be uncoupled from mitotic events under certain circumstances. This phenomenon is known as “premature chromosome condensation (PCC).” PCC provides insights in the mechanisms of chromosome condensation, thus helping clarifying the key molecular events leading to the mitosis. Besides, PCC has proved to be an useful tool for analyzing chromosomes in interphase. For example, using PCC we can visualize genetic damage shortly after the exposure to clastogenic agents. More than 30 years ago, the first report of PCC in interphase cells fused to mitotic cells using Sendai virus was described (virus-mediated PCC). The method paved the way to a great number of fundamental discoveries in cytogenetics, radiation biology, and related fields, but it has been hampered by technical difficulties. The novel drug-induced PCC method was introduced about 10 years ago. While fusion-induced PCC exploits the action of external maturation/mitosis promoting factor (MPF), migrating from the inducer mitotic cell to the interphase recipient, drug-induced PCC exploits protein phosphatase inhibitors, which can activate endogenous intracellular MPF. This method is much simpler than fusion-induced PCC, and has already proven useful in different fields. J. Cell. Physiol. 209: 297–304, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.