Using Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization (FISH) to Monitor the State of Arm Cohesion in Prometaphase and Metaphase I Drosophila Oocytes

This article has been accepted and is currently in production

Abstract

In humans, chromosome segregation errors in oocytes are responsible for the majority of miscarriages and birth defects. Moreover, as women age, their risk of conceiving an aneuploid fetus increases dramatically and this phenomenon is known as the maternal age effect. One requirement for accurate chromosome segregation during the meiotic divisions is maintenance of sister chromatid cohesion during the extended prophase period that oocytes experience. Cytological evidence in both humans and model organisms suggests that meiotic cohesion deteriorates during the aging process. In addition, segregation errors in human oocytes are most prevalent during meiosis I, consistent with premature loss of arm cohesion. The use of model organisms is critical for unraveling the mechanisms that underlie age-dependent loss of cohesion. Drosophila melanogaster offers several advantages for studying the regulation of meiotic cohesion in oocytes. However, until recently, only genetic tests were available to assay for loss of arm cohesion in oocytes of different genotypes or under different experimental conditions. Here, a detailed protocol is provided for using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to directly visualize defects in arm cohesion in prometaphase I and metaphase I arrested Drosophila oocytes. By generating a FISH probe that hybridizes to the distal arm of the X chromosome and collecting confocal Z stacks, a researcher can visualize the number of individual FISH signals in three dimensions and determine whether sister chromatid arms are separated. The procedure outlined makes it possible to quantify arm cohesion defects in hundreds of Drosophila oocytes. As such, this method provides an important tool for investigating the mechanisms that contribute to cohesion maintenance as well as the factors that lead to its demise during the aging process.