, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 131-143

Arrangement of chromatin in the nucleus

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Summary

The factors responsible for producing some degree of order to the arrangement of chromatin in the nucleus are reviewed. They are the following: 1. Chromosomes are attached to the nuclear membrane, nucleolus and intranuclear matrix. As a result they have a relatively fixed position in the nucleus. 2. In some species somatic pairing results in alignment of homologs. This is rare in mammals. 3. The association of ribosomal DNA and 5S DNA with the nucleolous results in the close approximation of the chromosomes carrying these DNA sequences. In man and other animals the most obvious consequence is satellite association. 4. Heterochromatin is condensed onto the inner nuclear membrane and periphery of the nucleolous while genetically active chromatin occupies the more central portion of the nucleus. The results is a peripheral location of late replicating DNA and a central location of early relicating DNA. 5. The DNA replication points tend to be associated with the nuclear matrix. Autoradiography of briefly labelled cells shows a high frequency of grains associated with nuclear matrix material. 6. Heterochromatin association results in chromocenters and ectopic pairing. 7. In addition to all these is the Rabl orientation or alignment of centromeres with centromeres and telomeres with telomeres. This polarization of the chromosomes results from the traction on the centromeres by the spindle fibers. There is no firm evidence for any higher degrees of order that might bring specific functioning genes into close proximity.

Supported by NIH Grant GM 15886