Lampbrush chromosomes enable study of cohesin dynamics

Christopher Austin, Natalya Novikova, Vincent Guacci, Michel Bellini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The lampbrush chromosomes present in the nuclei of amphibian oocytes offer unique biological approaches for study of the mechanisms that regulate chromatin structure with high spatial resolution. We discuss fundamental aspects of the remarkable organization and plasticity exhibited by lampbrush chromosomes. We then utilize lampbrush chromosomes to characterize the chromosomal distribution and dynamics of cohesin, the four-protein complex (RAD21/MCD1/SCC1, SMC1, SMC3, SCC3/SA2) responsible for sister chromatid cohesion. We find that endogenous SMC3 and newly expressed hRAD21 co-localize on chromosomal axes, sites where sister chromatids are tightly paired. We present evidence suggesting that hRAD21 recruitment to lampbrush chromosomes is modulated by chromosomal SMC1 and SMC3. Notably, using a technique for de novo chromosome assembly, we demonstrate that both SMC3 and hRAD21 are recruited to single, unreplicated lampbrush chromatids. Finally, we used our novel method of analyzing the oocyte nucleus under oil combined with fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, to provide direct evidence that cohesin is highly dynamic at discrete, condensed chromosomal regions. Collectively, these data demonstrate that lampbrush chromosomes provide a unique and powerful tool for combining biochemical and cytological analyses for dissection of complex chromosomal processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-184
Number of pages20
JournalChromosome Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Chromatin
  • Cohesin
  • Lampbrush chromosome
  • Oocyte nucleus
  • SMC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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