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The Collaborative International Dictionary
Chromatin

Chromatin \Chro"ma*tin\, n. [Gr. ?, ?, color.] 1. (Biol.) Tissue which is capable of being stained by dyes.

Chromatin

Chromatin \Chro"ma*tin\, n. (Biol.) The deeply staining substance of the nucleus and chromosomes of eukaryotic cells, composed of DNA and basic proteins (such as histones), the DNA of which comprises the predominant physical basis of inheritance. It was, at the beginning of the 20th century, supposed to be the same substance as was then termed idioplasm or germ plasm. In most eukaryotic cells, there is also DNA in certain plasmids, such as mitochondria, or (in plant cells) chloroplasts; but with the exception of these cytoplasmic genetic factors, the nuclear DNA of the chromatin is believed to contain all the genetic information required to code for the development of an adult organism. In the interphase nucleus the chromosomes are dispersed, but during cell division or meiosis they are condensed into the individually recognizable chromosomes. The set of chromosomes, or a photographic representation of the full set of chromosomes of a cell (often ordered for presentation) is called a karyotype.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
chromatin

protoplasm in cell nuclei, 1882, from German, coined 1879 by German anatomist Walther Flemming (1843-1905), from Latinized form of Greek khromat-, the correct combinational form of khroma "color" (see chroma) + chemical suffix -in (2). Related: Chromatid. Compare chromosome.

Wiktionary
chromatin

n. (senseid en complex of DNA, RNA, and proteins)(context biology English) A complex of DNA, RNA and proteins within the cell nucleus out of which chromosomes condense during cell division.

WordNet
chromatin

n. the readily stainable substance of a cell nucleus consisting of DNA and RNA and various proteins; during mitotic division the chromatin condenses into chromosomes [syn: chromatin granule]

Wikipedia
Chromatin

Chromatin is a complex of macromolecules found in cells, consisting of DNA, protein, and RNA. The primary functions of chromatin are 1) to package DNA into a smaller volume to fit in the cell, 2) to reinforce the DNA macromolecule to allow mitosis, 3) to prevent DNA damage, and 4) to control gene expression and DNA replication. The primary protein components of chromatin are histones that compact the DNA. Chromatin is only found in eukaryotic cells (cells with defined nuclei). Prokaryotic cells have a different organization of their DNA (the prokaryotic chromosome equivalent is called genophore and is localized within the nucleoid region).

The structure of chromatin depends on several factors. The overall structure depends on the stage of the cell cycle. During interphase, the chromatin is structurally loose to allow access to RNA and DNA polymerases that transcribe and replicate the DNA. The local structure of chromatin during interphase depends on the genes present on the DNA: DNA coding genes that are actively transcribed ("turned on") are more loosely packaged and are found associated with RNA polymerases (referred to as euchromatin) while DNA coding inactive genes ("turned off") are found associated with structural proteins and are more tightly packaged ( heterochromatin). Epigenetic chemical modification of the structural proteins in chromatin also alters the local chromatin structure, in particular chemical modifications of histone proteins by methylation and acetylation. As the cell prepares to divide, i.e. enters mitosis or meiosis, the chromatin packages more tightly to facilitate segregation of the chromosomes during anaphase. During this stage of the cell cycle this makes the individual chromosomes in many cells visible by optical microscope.

In general terms, there are three levels of chromatin organization:

  1. DNA wraps around histone proteins forming nucleosomes; the "beads on a string" structure ( euchromatin).
  2. Multiple histones wrap into a 30 nm fibre consisting of nucleosome arrays in their most compact form ( heterochromatin). (Definitively established to exist in vitro, the 30- nanometer fibre was not seen in recent X-ray studies of human mitotic chromosomes.)
  3. Higher-level DNA packaging of the 30 nm fibre into the metaphase chromosome (during mitosis and meiosis).

There are, however, many cells that do not follow this organisation. For example, spermatozoa and avian red blood cells have more tightly packed chromatin than most eukaryotic cells, and trypanosomatid protozoa do not condense their chromatin into visible chromosomes for mitosis.

Usage examples of "chromatin".

This explanation is that some of the chromatin material or germ plasm is handed down from one generation to another, and is stored temporarily in the nucleii of the reproductive cells.

And, second, chromosomes only resolved themselves out of the chromatin during mitosis, which, of course, was hardly the usual state of affairs within a cell.

As a footnote, Florian added, 'And there's also this cell material called chromatin, but that's a bit complex for our festive little dinner.