Counterstain-enhanced chromosome banding

Research paper by D. Schwezer

Indexed on: 01 Mar '81Published on: 01 Mar '81Published in: Human Genetics


Chromosome staining, in which at least one member of a pair or triplet of DNA binding dyes is fluoescent whereas the others act as counterstain, is reviewed. Appropriately chosen combinations of fluorescent dyes and counterstains can be employed to enhance general chromosome banding patterns, or to induce specific regional banding patterns. Some pairs of dyes which exhibit complementary DNA binding specificity, A-T/G-C or G-C/A-T, provide enhanced definition of positive or reverse banding patterns. Dye combinations of the type A-T/A-T, that include two DNA stains with similar specificity but non-identical binding modes, produce a specific pattern of brightly fluorescnet heterochromatic regions (DA-DAPI bands). In man, the method highlights the C bands of chromosomes 1, 9, 15, 16, and the Y. Certain dye triplets of the type G-C/A-T/A-T, which include two spectroscopically separated fluorescent stains with reciprocal DNA base pair binding specificites and a non-fluorescent A-T binding counterstain, can be used to highlight selectively, in the appropriate wavelength ranges, either R bands or DA-DAPI bands.Applications of these techniques in human cytogenetics are described. The potential of the new methodology for detecting and analysing specific chromosome bands is demonstrated. The mechanisms responsible for contrast enhancement and pattern induction are reviewed and their implications for chromosome structure are discussed as they relate to the banding phenomenon and to the DNA composition of chromosomes.