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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1885, from German histon (1884); see histo- + -one.


n. (context biochemistry English) Any of various simple water soluble proteins that are rich in the basic amino acids lysine and arginine and are complexed with DNA in the nucleosomes of eukaryotic chromatin.


n. a simple protein containing mainly basic amino acids; present in cell nuclei in association with nucleic acids


In biology, histones are highly alkaline proteins found in eukaryotic cell nuclei that package and order the DNA into structural units called nucleosomes. They are the chief protein components of chromatin, acting as spools around which DNA winds, and playing a role in gene regulation. Without histones, the unwound DNA in chromosomes would be very long (a length to width ratio of more than 10 million to 1 in human DNA). For example, each human cell has about 1.8 meters of DNA, (~6 ft) but wound on the histones it has about 90 micrometers (0.09 mm) of chromatin, which, when duplicated and condensed during mitosis, result in about 120 micrometers of chromosomes.

Usage examples of "histone".

Each chromosome consists of a DNA double helix that is wrapped around spoollike proteins called histones.

Haemoglobin genes have a rate of changing that is intermediate betwen histones and fibrinopeptides.

The slowest-evolvjiig molecules, like histones, turn out to be the ones that have been most subject to natural selection.

Not all animals have haemoglobin, but there are other proteins, for instance histones, of which a version exists in every animal and plant, and again many of them can already be looked up in the library.

The histones that normally enveloped the DNA were either missing or attenuated in the area of the inserted gene.