Scanning Microscopy


Scanning force microscopy (SFM) is a new method to obtain the topography of surfaces with nanometer-resolution. The ability to image under liquids makes the technique attractive for biological applications, especially for the determination of the ultrastructure of biomolecules under native conditions. One growing field of interest is the investigation of chromatin and chromatin-related structures. Different levels of chromatin condensation were the subject of several previous SFM investigations, from the nucleosomal chain, to the 30-nm fiber, ending with the metaphase chromosome. The SFM yielded new information on such fundamental problems as the core spacing of the nucleosomal chain, the internal structure of the 30-nm fiber and the banding mechanism of metaphase chromosomes. Other investigations dealt with the SFM characterization of polytene chromosomes. This paper reviews the state-of-the-art in SFM chromatin research and discusses future developments in this field.

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