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Exp Cell Res. 2012 Jul 15;318(12):1448-55. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2012.02.014. Epub 2012 Feb 24.

Chromatin organization - the 30 nm fiber.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Despite over 30 years of work, the fundamental structure of eukaryotic chromatin remains controversial. Here, we review the roots of this controversy in disparities between results derived from studies of chromatin in nuclei, chromatin isolated from nuclei, and chromatin reconstituted from defined components. Thanks to recent advances in imaging, modeling, and other approaches, it is now possible to recognize some unifying principles driving chromatin architecture at the level of the ubiquitous '30 nm' chromatin fiber. These suggest that fiber architecture involves both zigzag and bent linker motifs, and that such heteromorphic structures facilitate the observed high packing ratios. Interactions between neighboring fibers in highly compact chromatin lead to extensive interdigitation of nucleosomes and the inability to resolve individual fibers in compact chromatin in situ.

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