Nat Commun 13 (1) 6680 [2022-11-05; online 2022-11-05]
Chromatin compaction is a key biophysical property that influences multiple DNA transactions. Lack of chromatin accessibility is frequently used as proxy for chromatin compaction. However, we currently lack tools for directly probing chromatin compaction at individual genomic loci. To fill this gap, here we present FRET-FISH, a method combining fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) with DNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to probe chromatin compaction at select loci in single cells. We first validate FRET-FISH by comparing it with ATAC-seq, demonstrating that local compaction and accessibility are strongly correlated. FRET-FISH also detects expected differences in compaction upon treatment with drugs perturbing global chromatin condensation. We then leverage FRET-FISH to study local chromatin compaction on the active and inactive X chromosome, along the nuclear radius, in different cell cycle phases, and during increasing passage number. FRET-FISH is a robust tool for probing local chromatin compaction in single cells.