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Electron spectroscopic imaging of chromatin.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Methods (San Diego, Calif.)
Publication Date
Volume
17
Issue
2
Pages
188–200
Identifiers
PMID: 10075896
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The analytical electron microscope technique called electron spectroscopic imaging (ESI) has a number of applications in the study of DNA:protein complexes. The method offers an intermediate level of spatial resolution for in vitro structural studies of complexes that may be too large or heterogeneous to study by crystallography or magnetic resonance spectroscopy. An advantage of ESI is that the distribution of nucleic acids can be resolved in a nucleoprotein complex by mapping the element phosphorus, present at high levels in nucleic acid compared to protein. Measurements of phosphorus content together with mass determination allows estimates to be made of stoichiometric relationships of protein and nucleic acids in these complexes. ESI is also suited to in situ studies of nuclear structure. Mass-sensitive images combined with nitrogen and phosphorus maps can be used to distinguish nucleic acid components from nuclear structures that are predominantly protein based. Interactions between chromatin on the periphery of interchromatin granule clusters (IGC) with the protein substructure that connects the exterior of the IGC to its core can be studied with this technique. The method also avoids the use of heavy atom stains, agents required in conventional electron microscopy, that preclude the distinguishing of structures on the basis of their biochemical composition. The principles of ESI and technical aspects of the method are discussed.

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