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Solving Chromosomes' Structure

Friday, November 8, 2013

Scientists find that loops of DNA are key to tightly packing genetic material for cell division.

Scientists first discovered chromosomes in the late 1800s, after the light microscope was invented. Using these microscopes, biologist Walter Flemming observed many tightly wound, elongated structures in cell nuclei. Later, it was found that chromosomes are made from DNA, the cell’s genetic material.

Since then, scientists have proposed many possible ways that DNA molecules might fold into 3-D condensed chromosomes. Now, researchers at MIT and the University of Massachusetts Medical School have obtained novel data on the 3-D organization of condensed human chromosomes and built the first comprehensive model of such chromosomes. Read more ...

A model of human mitotic chromosome is shown. The chromosome is composed of a flexible scaffold and a system of loops (red, magenta, blue).
Illustration: Imakaev M., Fudenberg G., Naumova N., Dekker J., and Mirny L.