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NUCLEOSOMES. Chromosome Structure. Human DNA’s total length is ~2 meters! This must be packaged into a nucleus that is about 5 micrometers in diameter This represents a compression of more than 100,000!

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Chromosome Structure

  • Human DNA’s total length is ~2 meters!

  • This must be packaged into a nucleus that is about 5 micrometers in diameter

  • This represents a compression of more than 100,000!

  • It is made possible by wrapping the DNA around protein spools called nucleosomes and then packing these in helical filaments

Micrograph of extended chromatin

Electron micrograph of extended chromatin showing "beads-on-a-string" organization. The "beads" are DNA-histone complexes called nucleosomes, and the "string" is double-stranded DNA.

Nucleosome structure

(a) Four pairs of Histone protein monomers namely H2A,H2B,H3,H4 make up the histone core (octamer).

(b) Each nucleosome is composed of a core (octamer) particle, histone H1 and linker DNA. Nucleosome core particle is composed of histone octamer and 146 base pairs of DNA. Linker DNA consists of 54 base pairs. Histone H1 binds to core particle and linker DNA.. DNA forms left-handed wraps around the histone octamer. These coils are topologically equivalent to negative super coils.

Structure of chicken nucleosome core particle

The surface of the histone octamer that contacts the phosphate backbone of DNA double helix has high percentage of positively charged amino acids, aiding in DNA binding.

Ribbon structure of chicken

histone octamer

Histone octamer bound to DNA-

30 nm chromatin fiber

30nm chromatin fiber model shown as a solenoid, or helix, formed by individual nucleosomes. The nucleosomes associate through contacts between adjacent histone H1 molecules. This solenoid is left handed, with net topological effect of introducing negative super coils into the DNA. The 30nm fiber attaches to an RNA-protein scaffold that holds the fibers in large loops.

Electron micrographs of a histone-depleted chromosome

(a) Entire protein scaffold of the histone-depleted chromosome is visible. The swirls are DNA double-helices. (b) Magnification of a portion of (a), individual loops attached to the protein scaffold can be seen. Each loop would form a solenoid attached to the protein scaffold. The degree of compacting of DNA by formation of nucleosomes is significant.

Chromosome: a very long DNA molecule and associated proteins, that carry portions of the hereditary information of an organism.

Structure of a chromosome (Typical metaphase chromosome): A chromosome is formed from a single DNA molecule that contains many genes.

Chromosomal DNA molecule contains three specific nucleotide sequences which are required for replication:

Originreplication of DNA

Centromere to attach the DNA to the mitotic spindleTelomere located at each end of the linear chromosome.


Gene can be defined as a region of DNA that controls a hereditary characteristic. Usually a sequence leads to the production of a specific protein or RNA.

A gene carries biological information that is copied, transmitted from cell to all its progeny. This includes the entire functional unit: coding DNA sequences, non-coding regulatory DNA sequences, and introns.

Genes can be as short as 1000 base pairs or as long as several hundred thousand base pairs.

Chromosome morphology the position of the centromere



Chromosome morphology :the position of the centromere



In human
In human :