Small angle scattering of cell nuclei

H Notbohm


Neutron and X-ray small angle scattering techniques have been applied to study chromatin structure inside different types of cell nuclei. Scattering from genetically inactive chicken erythrocyte nuclei exhibits a maximum at Q = 0.1-0.15 nm-1 which cannot be observed by studying isolated chromatin derived from the same kind of cells. In highly active transcribing rat liver nuclei such a nuclear pattern is absent. The radius of gyration of isolated "superbeads" was determined. It is discussed whether the characteristic maximum of the nuclei originates from this superstructural organisation of chromatin. Rat liver nuclei were fractionated on sucrose gradients in order to determine whether the absence of the extra maximum in scattering profiles of these nuclei is due to overlapping effects of different chromatin organisation in the various cell types of the liver. As compared to unfractionated nuclei no strong deviations in the scattering profiles of the fractions could be observed. Erythrocyte nuclei were dialysed in buffers differing in the ionic strength of monovalent cations. The typical maximum from the nuclei is shifted from 60 nm (very low salt concentration) to about 35 nm (physiological ionic strength) and is linearly proportional to the decreasing radius of the nuclei. In conclusion, chromatin structure inside the nucleus has a scattering maximum due to an ordered packing of the fibres which is absent in nuclei with high genetic activity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Biophysics Journal
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)367-72
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1986


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