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Phasor histone FLIM-FRET microscopy quantifies spatiotemporal rearrangement of chromatin architecture during the DNA damage response


To investigate how chromatin architecture is spatiotemporally organized at a double-strand break (DSB) repair locus, we established a biophysical method to quantify chromatin compaction at the nucleosome level during the DNA damage response (DDR). The method is based on phasor image-correlation spectroscopy of histone fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM)-Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) microscopy data acquired in live cells coexpressing H2B-eGFP and H2B-mCherry. This multiplexed approach generates spatiotemporal maps of nuclear-wide chromatin compaction that, when coupled with laser microirradiation-induced DSBs, quantify the size, stability, and spacing between compact chromatin foci throughout the DDR. Using this technology, we identify that ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and RNF8 regulate rapid chromatin decompaction at DSBs and formation of compact chromatin foci surrounding the repair locus. This chromatin architecture serves to demarcate the repair locus from the surrounding nuclear environment and modulate 53BP1 mobility.

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