3-D Animation Library

DNA Molecule: How DNA is Packaged (Advanced)

Each chromosome consists of one continuous thread-like molecule of DNA coiled tightly around proteins, and contains a portion of the 6,400,000,000 basepairs (DNA building blocks) that make up your DNA.

Duration: 1 minutes, 42 seconds

DNA Molecule: How DNA is Packaged (Advanced)

Transcript: In this animation we'll see the remarkable way our DNA is tightly packed up to fit into the nucleus of every cell. The process starts with assembly of a nucleosome, which is formed when eight separate histone protein subunits attach to the DNA molecule. The combined tight loop of DNA and protein is the nucleosome. Six nucleosomes are coiled together and these then stack on top of each other. The end result is a fiber of packed nucleosomes known as chromatin. This structure, is then looped and further packaged using other proteins (which are not shown here) to give the final "chromosomal" shapes. It is this remarkable multiple folding which allows six feet of DNA to fit into the nucleus of each cell in our body. And a typical cell nucleus is so small that ten thousand could fit on the tip of a needle. It is important to realize that chromosomes are not always present, they form only when cells are dividing. At other times, as we can see here at the end of cell division, our DNA becomes less highly organized.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
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