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EMBO J. 1986 Jun;5(6):1395-402.

Cryo-electron microscopy of vitrified chromosomes in situ.


Chromosomes of metaphase-arrested Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) and HeLa cells were examined in situ, unfixed and unstained, by cryo-electron microscopy. In hydrated, vitrified cryo-sections, chromosomes exhibit a characteristic homogeneous, grainy texture, which, on optical diffraction, gives rise to a broad reflection corresponding to 11 nm. No superstructure or periodic order is discernible. These observations suggest that the chromosome is formed by the compact association of 11 nm filaments, or portions thereof, interacting in a manner akin to the molecules of a liquid. Some implications of the liquid model of chromosome structure are discussed.

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