Molecular and cellular biology

Quantitative analysis of chromosome condensation in fission yeast.

PMID 23263988


Chromosomes undergo extensive conformational rearrangements in preparation for their segregation during cell divisions. Insights into the molecular mechanisms behind this still poorly understood condensation process require the development of new approaches to quantitatively assess chromosome formation in vivo. In this study, we present a live-cell microscopy-based chromosome condensation assay in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. By automatically tracking the three-dimensional distance changes between fluorescently marked chromosome loci at high temporal and spatial resolution, we analyze chromosome condensation during mitosis and meiosis and deduct defined parameters to describe condensation dynamics. We demonstrate that this method can determine the contributions of condensin, topoisomerase II, and Aurora kinase to mitotic chromosome condensation. We furthermore show that the assay can identify proteins required for mitotic chromosome formation de novo by isolating mutants in condensin, DNA polymerase ε, and F-box DNA helicase I that are specifically defective in pro-/metaphase condensation. Thus, the chromosome condensation assay provides a direct and sensitive system for the discovery and characterization of components of the chromosome condensation machinery in a genetically tractable eukaryote.