Chromosomes

Recall that DNA is a long, thin molecule that stores genetic information. The DNA in a human cell is estimated to consist of three billion nucleotides. To visualize the enormity of three billion nucleotides, imagine increasing a cell nucleus to the size of a basketball. Then, imagine taking the DNA out of the basketball-sized nucleus and stretching it into a straight line. That line of DNA would stretch for more than 20 miles. How can a nucleus hold so much DNA? Inside the nucleus, the DNA is coiled and packed in a complicated yet organized manner. As a cell prepares to divide, the DNA coils even further into tightly compacted structures.

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