True chromosomes are not at all like X and Y

The image of chromosomes in the form of the Latin letters "X" and "Y" known to all from textbooks, according to updated data, does not correspond to the truth in any way. According to Harvard scientist Jun-Han Su, such a picture can be observed only 10% of the time. The true shape of the repositories of genetic information turned out to be much more complicated, and more recently the team of biophysicist Xiaowei Zhuang finally managed to visualize it.

When studying chromosomes, it is important to take into account their three-dimensional structure, says Chuang, without this it is impossible to analyze the work of molecular mechanisms. Chromatin is unevenly distributed within the chromosome, but with certain patterns. Her team has developed a new method for visualizing this substance, using its natural property of being colored under various influences.

The technology is based on multiplex fluorescence and ultra-high resolution microscopy. Using a series of snapshots of genomic loci, the researchers built a 3D model that shows detailed chromatin distribution. The structure of chromosomes turned out to be much more complex than simple forms X and Y, and it is difficult to describe. Plus, it's only a fraction of a DNA molecule, and Chuang is planning a large-scale study of its construction using new technology to see the big picture.