Scientific article

Metaphase chromosome structure: evidence for a radial loop model

Published inCell, vol. 17, no. 4, p. 849-858
Publication date1979-08

Electron micrographs of thin sections of metaphase chromosomes isolated from HeLa cells provide new insight into the higher-order arrangement of the nucleoprotein fiber. Micrographs obtained from chromosomes swollen by chelation of the divalent cation are particularly revealing. Under these conditions, chromosomes swell in width by a factor of about 4 and the basic, thick nucleoprotein fiber (200–300 Å) relaxes to the thin fiber (100 Å), which is probably a linear array of nucleosomes. Cross sections show a central area from which the fibers emerge in a radial fashion, often forming loops which are 3–4 μm long. Chromosomes fixed in the presence of 1 mM MgCl2 are more compact, having an average chromatid diameter of about 1 μm, and consist of the thick (200–300 Å) fiber. Radial loops of about 0.6 μm can be observed frequently in these chromosomes, although the loops are more difficult to visualize due to the compactness of the structure and the material contaminating the periphery. Chromosomes isolated with the help of hexylene glycol are extremely compact (diameter about 0.6 μm) but quite free of cytoplasmic material. They consist of a 500 Å fiber that forms rather regular projections at the periphery. These projections appear to be loops of the thick fiber (200–300 Å), possibly shortened by twisting into a short supercoil. The chromatin loops observed in the intact chromosomes are thought to be structurally related to the DNA loops observed previously in the histone-depleted chromosomes (Paulson and Laemmli, 1977). In this paper, we discuss a model in which the nucleoprotein fiber is folded into loops which are arranged in the chromatid in radial fashion, in such a way that their bases become the central axis of the chromatid.

  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Fractionation / methods
  • Chromosomes, Human / ultrastructure
  • HeLa Cells / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Metaphase
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Genetic
  • Nucleoproteins / metabolism
  • Nucleosomes / ultrastructure
  • Protein Conformation
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
MARSDEN, Margery P.F., LAEMMLI, Ulrich Karl. Metaphase chromosome structure: evidence for a radial loop model. In: Cell, 1979, vol. 17, n° 4, p. 849–858. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(79)90325-8
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0092-8674

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