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INTRODUCTION

Since Rudolph Virchow first applied the light microscope to the analysis of tissues, traditional histopathological assessment of cutaneous diseases has largely remained unchanged over the past 150 years.1 The process of immunohistochemistry was invented in the 1940s by Coons, Creech, and Jones and revolutionized the pathologist’s ability to identify cellular protein expression and the subclassification of tumors by various lines of differentiation. With the launch of the Human Genome Project in 1990, scientists were able to map all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and functional standpoint.2 Since then, an explosion of data has been derived from genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, lipidomic, and metabolomic (“omics”) technologies.3 Below, we briefly summarize the role of some of these technologies in the current and future practice of dermatopathology (Table A2-1).

TABLE A2-1Current Methodologies for Studying Genomic Alterations

KARYOTYPE

A karyotype is the number and appearance of Giemsa-stained chromosomes in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells during arrest in metaphase or prophase by colchicine treatment. Since this technology requires fresh live cells growing in tissue culture, it is rarely used in the field of dermatopathology.4

COMPARATIVE GENOMIC HYBRIDIZATION (CGH) AND FLUORESCENCE IN SITU HYBRIDIZATION (FISH)

FISH is a technique for identifying a specific region within an intact chromosome. While it is particularly useful in the identification of specific chromosomal abnormalities in various tumors, it may also be used to identify germline chromosomal diseases, such as some genodermatoses. It can be performed on fresh, frozen, or paraffin-embedded material. FISH can be used to map loci on specific chromosomes, detect chromosomal rearrangements, document chromosomal gains and losses, as well as reveal more subtle abnormalities, such as small deletions or point mutations. FISH is performed by fixing patient cells to a glass slide followed by heating the sample to denature (separate) the double-stranded DNA. Specific fluorescently labeled DNA probes are then applied. Once ...

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