Boei, J. J. W. A., Fomina, J., Darroudi, F., Nagelkerke, N. J. D. and Mullenders, L. H. F. Interphase Chromosome Positioning Affects the Spectrum of Radiation-Induced Chromosomal Aberrations. Radiat. Res. 166, 319–326 (2006).
In interphase, chromosomes occupy defined nuclear volumes known as chromosome territories. To probe the biological consequences of the described nonrandom spatial positioning of chromosome territories in human lymphocytes, we performed an extensive FISH-based analysis of ionizing radiation-induced interchanges involving chromosomes 1, 4, 18 and 19. Since the probability of exchange formation depends strongly on the spatial distance between the damage sites in the genome, a preferential formation of exchanges between proximally positioned chromosomes is expected. Here we show that the spectrum of interchanges deviates significantly from one expected based on random chromosome positioning. Moreover, the observed exchange interactions between specific chromosome pairs as well as the interactions between homologous chromosomes are consistent with the proposed gene density-related radial distribution of chromosome territories. The differences between expected and observed exchange frequencies are more pronounced after exposure to densely ionizing neutrons than after exposure to sparsely ionizing X rays. These experiments demonstrate that the spatial positioning of interphase chromosomes affects the spectrum of chromosome rearrangements.