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Nucleosome Model of Chromosome

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Nucleosome Model of Chromosome

  • Chrosomes are self-replicating nucleic acid molecules that have particular organisational and functional characteristics and are essential for inheritance, mutation, variety and evolutionary advancement.
  • Every chromosome’s structure is supported by many layers of DNA wrapped around proteins.
  • Histones and non-histone chromosomal proteins are the traditional classifications for proteins which attach to DNA to construct eukaryotic chromosomes.
  • Chromatin is the name given to the complex of both classes of proteins with the nuclear DNA of eukaryotic cells. Nuclear components, chromosomes are the building blocks of a specific organisation.
  • Chromatin is a highly compacted structure made up of packed DNA that is required for DNA to fit into the nucleus.
  • A succession of steps is required to assemble DNA into chromatin, starting with the synthesis of the nucleosome, and ending with a complex organisation of domains within the nucleus.
  • DNA is condensed into an 11 nm fibre in the first step of this process, which indicates a 6fold amount of compaction. Nucleosome assembly is used to do this.
  • The nucleosome is chromatin’s smallest structural component, formed by interactions between DNA and histone proteins.⦁
  • It consists of an octamer core of histones H2A, B, 3 and 4 (or other histone variants in rare instances) and a DNA segment which surrounds the core of the nucleosome. Connecting nucleosome pairs is done with the help of “linker DNA”.

Nucleosome Model of Chromosome


  • When DNA and related proteins are arranged in the nucleus, the nucleosome model helps explain how DNA and related proteins are arranged in chromosomes.
  • Roger Kornberg proposed the model in 1974, and it is widely recognised model of chromatin organisation.
  • It was confirmed and christened by P. Oudet et al., and it is the most widely accepted model of chromatin organisation (1975).

Features of the Nucleosome Model of Chromosomes

  • DNA is securely bonded to an equivalent mass of histones in eukaryotes, forming nucleosomes, a repeating array of DNA-protein particles.
  • Every human chromosome’s DNA double-helix will stretch thousands of times across the cell nucleus.
  • Histones serve a critical funstion in packing this very long DNA molecule (i.e., nucleosome) into a nucleus with a diameter of only a few micrometres.
  • Thus, nucleosomes are the chromatin’s primary packing unit particles, giving it a “beads-on-a-string” look in electron micrographs following treatments which unravel higher-order packing.
  • In addition, every nucleosome comprises two copies of every one of the four nucleosome histones (H2A, H2B, H3, and H4), with a diameter of 11 nm and a height of 5.7 nm.
  • Hexamer histones (H3, H4, H2A, and H2B) form the nucleus of the DNA helix, that is twisted 146 times around the histone octamer’s protein core.
  • Every nucleosome is separated from the next by a 54-base pair stretch of linker DNA consisting of a single H1 histone molecule in chromatin.
  • H1 molecules seal off two complete rotations around the histone octamers, which are 200 bp long.
  • Nucleosomes repeat at 200 nucleotide or base pair intervals on average. For example, every human cell with 6 × 109 DNA nucleotide pairs includes
  • 3 x 107 nucleosomes, and a eukaryotic gene of 10,000 nucleotide pairs will be connected with 50 nucleosomes.

Folding of DNA

  • The DNA is initially assembled with a freshly synthesised tetramer (H3-H4), which is then selectively changed (e.g., H4 is acetylated at Lys5 and Lysl2 (H3-H4)) to produce a sub-nucleosomal particle, that is then followed by the addition of two H2A-H2B dimers.
  • A nucleosomal core particle with 146 base pairs of DNA binds around the histone octamer as a result of this process. The nucleosome is made up of this core particle and its linker DNA.
  • The maturation process requires ATP to ensure that the nucleosome cores are spaced evenly to create the nucleo-filament.
  • The newly integrated histones are de-acetylated during this stage.
  • Following the insertion of linker histones, the nucleo-filament is folded into the 30 nm fibre, the structure of which is still unknown.
  • The solenoid model and the zig-zag model are the two main models.
  • Finally, the nucleus develops a high level of organisation and particular domains as a result of further folding events.


Nucleosome Model of Chromosome Citations 

  1. Verma, P. S., & Agrawal, V. K. (2006). Cell Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Evolution & Ecology (1 ed.). S .Chand and company Ltd.
  2. Alberts, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., & Walter, P. (2002). Molecular biology of the cell. New York: Garland Science.


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