Genes that are active are located mainly in the central region of the nucleus, while inactive genes are at the periphery. But scientists have had no way to track chromosome movement inside the nucleus or to determine whether the location of the chromosomes was the result of random diffusion or if they are moved around by molecular motors.
In a study published in the April 17 issue of Current Biology, UIC and UIUC researchers show that chromosomes in the cell nucleus are capable of directed, long-range movement that depends on actin and myosin, the major molecular motor complex in the cytoplasm.
Developing a system for observing nuclear motion was difficult because chromosome movement is extremely light-sensitive. One exposure to light, and the chromosome would not move, even though the cell appeared undamaged. After extensive experimentation, researchers at UIUC developed a method that allowed them to take pictures without killing the movement.
Using this system, UIUC graduate student Chien-Hui Chuang studied a chromosome that is normally found in an inactive state near the nuclear periphery and moves to the interior of the nucleus when it receives an activating signal.
"The movement following activation was radically different from the rapid, but short-range, diffuse movement previously observed in these nuclei," said Dr. Andrew Belmont, professor of cell and developmental biology at UIUC, principle investigator and co-author of the study. It was clear that this was directed movement that required a motor, Belmont said, because the chromosome was moving in a nearly straight line perpend
Source:University of Illinois at Chicago