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The layered organization of nucleosomes in 30 nm chromatin fibers

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We have used electron microscopy and established methods of three-dimensional reconstruction to obtain structural information on the 30 nm chromatin fibers from sea cucumber sperm and chicken erythrocytes. The fibers show a longitudinal periodicity of 10–11 nm. We have interpreted this periodicity as due to a grouping of nucleosomes into disks, each disk containing about 5–6 nucleosomes. These disks are closely stacked to form the chromatin fiber. We have built a detailed model for four fibers and we have determined the approximate coordinates of all the nucleosomes in them. The average distance found between neighboring nucleosomes has a value close to 11 nm. They may be connected either as a regularly distorted helix or as a layered zigzag. The second model appears more appropriate, since in the constrictions of the fibers the nucleosomes can only be connected as a zigzag.

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Subirana, J.A., Muñoz-Guerra, S., Aymamí, J. et al. The layered organization of nucleosomes in 30 nm chromatin fibers. Chromosoma 91, 377–390 (1985).

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  • Electron Microscopy
  • Developmental Biology
  • Structural Information
  • Average Distance
  • Layered Organization