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The Structure Of Chromosome And How It Is Influenced By Epigenetic Factors

1061 words - 5 pages

The Chromosomal Theory of Inheritance, proposed by Walter Sutton and Theodor Boveri in 1902-1903 is considered a landmark in the science of genetics (Martins, 1999). The theory established chromosomes as the carriers of hereditary information (genes). It also implied that chromosomes (and not genes) undergo segregation and independent assortment as proposed by Gregor Johann Medel (1865-1866) in his Laws of Inheritance. A chromosome can contain more than one gene(s). Although the contemporary scholars were highly skeptical of this idea, Thomas Hunt Morgan (1915), showed linear arrangement of genes in chromosomes providing a convincing evidence for Sutton-Boveri’s work. The aim of this essay ...view middle of the document...

The packaging takes place through several hierarchies. At the first level, the DNA (2nm in diameter) is wound around the histone protein that resembles beads on a string. This structure is known as a nucleosome (11nm) which coil and stack upon one another forming a solenoid (30nm), the second level of packing. This further coils to form looped domains and then chromatin fibers (300 nm). The chromatin fibers further coil to form chromatids which are the longitudinal subunits of chromosomes (Klug, Cummings, Spencer & Palladino, 2014).
When the nuclei of cells are examined, it is observed that the structure of chromosome is not uniform. For example, during interphase, there are parts of the chromatin fiber that remain highly stained. In 1928, Emil Heitz used the term heterochromatin to represent these regions of strong stain/dark banding. He also used the term euchromatin to represent the regions of light staining/banding. It has now been found that heterochromatin represents regions of high, repetitive, concentrated DNA and its subsequent packaging. On the other hand, euchromatins are regions of lesser repetitive and lesser-condensed DNA, which is why they stain lighter (during interphase). They indicate are dispersed and are an indication f cells that are actively transcribing many of their genes. Heterochromatin regions are rather small, irregular, usually accumulate near the nuclear membrane and show little or no activity of transcription and gene expression. Most of the genome in active cells is represented by euchromatin as opposed to heterochromatin which accounts for cells that are genetically inactive. Furthermore, it is early replicative during the S phase of cell cycle than euchromatin. The latter is found in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells while the former is unique to eukaryotes. The main constituents of heterochromatin are satellite sequences (Lohe, Hilliker & Roberts, 1993). Heterochromatin is found in the centromere, telomere, the Barry body (inactivated X-chromosome in female mammals). The mammalian Y-chromosome is entirely heterochromatic and genetically inert. Heterochromatins are associated with maintaining chromosomal integrity, gene regulation and and chromosomal movement during cell division. Heterochromatin can be further classified as constitutive (e.g. centromeres and telomeres) and...

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