Scientists tease out the secrets of proteins that DNA wraps around
Jamming a week's worth of clothing into a carry-on suitcase is tough, but consider the challenge a human cell faces with its DNA. More than 6 feet of this double-stranded molecule, making up a cell's 23 pairs of chromosomes, must get stuffed into the cell's microscopic nucleus. Just as people might roll or fold their clothes in special ways to stuff a piece of luggage, cells have devised tricks of their own to cram in all their DNA. One trick is to tightly wind the DNA around complexes of proteins called histones, much as thread is coiled around a spool. The histone-DNA combos, in turn, are folded and refolded to make up individual chromosomes.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.