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Chromosomes are predominantly located randomly with respect to each other in interphase human cells


To test quantitatively whether there are systematic chromosome-chromosome associations within human interphase nuclei, interchanges between all possible heterologous pairs of chromosomes were measured with 24-color whole-chromosome painting (multiplex FISH), after damage to interphase lymphocytes by sparsely ionizing radiation in vitro. An excess of interchanges for a specific chromosome pair would indicate spatial proximity between the chromosomes comprising that pair. The experimental design was such that quite small deviations from randomness (extra pairwise interchanges within a group of chromosomes) would be detectable. The only statistically significant chromosome cluster was a group of five chromosomes previously observed to be preferentially located near the center of the nucleus. However, quantitatively, the overall deviation from randomness within the whole genome was small. Thus, whereas some chromosome-chromosome associations are clearly present, at the whole-chromosomal level, the predominant overall pattern appears to be spatially random.

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