Chromosome

A chromosome is a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule with part or all of the genetic material (genome) of an organism. Most eukaryotic chromosomes include packaging proteins which, aided by chaperone proteins, bind to and condense the DNA molecule to prevent it from becoming an unmanageable tangle.[1][2]

Chromosomes are normally visible under a light microscope only when the cell is undergoing the metaphase of cell division (where all chromosomes are aligned in the center of the cell in their condensed form).[3] Before this happens, every chromosome is copied once (S phase), and the copy is joined to the original by a centromere, resulting either in an X-shaped structure (pictured here) if the centromere is located in the middle of the chromosome or a two-arm structure if the centromere is located near one of the ends. The original chromosome and the copy are now called sister chromatids. During metaphase the X-shape structure is called a metaphase chromosome. In this highly condensed form chromosomes are easiest to distinguish and study.[4] In animal cells, chromosomes reach their highest compaction level in anaphase during chromosome segregation.[5]

Chromosomal recombination during meiosis and subsequent sexual reproduction play a significant role in genetic diversity. If these structures are manipulated incorrectly, through processes known as chromosomal instability and translocation, the cell may undergo mitotic catastrophe. Usually, this will make the cell initiate apoptosis leading to its own death, but sometimes mutations in the cell hamper this process and thus cause progression of cancer.

Some use the term chromosome in a wider sense, to refer to the individualized portions of chromatin in cells, either visible or not under light microscopy. Others use the concept in a narrower sense, to refer to the individualized portions of chromatin during cell division, visible under light microscopy due to high condensation.

Chromosome
Diagram of a replicated and condensed metaphase eukaryotic chromosome. (1) Chromatid – one of the two identical parts of the chromosome after S phase. (2) Centromere – the point where the two chromatids touch. (3) Short arm (p).(4) Long arm (q).

Etymology

The word chromosome (/ˈkroʊməˌsoʊm, -ˌzoʊm/[6][7]) comes from the Greek χρῶμα (chroma, "colour") and σῶμα (soma, "body"), describing their strong staining by particular dyes.[8] The term was coined by the German scientist von Waldeyer-Hartz,[9] referring to the term chromatin, which was itself introduced by Walther Flemming, who discovered cell division.

Some of the early karyological terms have become outdated.[10][11] For example, Chromatin (Flemming 1880) and Chromosom (Waldeyer 1888), both ascribe color to a non-colored state.[12]

History of discovery

Walter Sutton (left) and Theodor Boveri (right) independently developed the chromosome theory of inheritance in 1902.

Walter sutton
Theodor Boveri

The German scientists Schleiden,[4] Virchow and Bütschli were among the first scientists who first recognized the structures now familiar as chromosomes.[13]

In a series of experiments beginning in the mid-1880s, Theodor Boveri gave the definitive demonstration that chromosomes are the vectors of heredity; his two principles or postulates were the continuity of chromosomes and the individuality of chromosomes. It is the second of these principles that was so original. Wilhelm Roux suggested that each chromosome carries a different genetic configuration Boveri was able to test and confirm this hypothesis. Aided by the rediscovery at the start of the 1900s of Gregor Mendel's earlier work, Boveri was able to point out the connection between the rules of inheritance and the behaviour of the chromosomes. Boveri influenced two generations of American cytologists: Edmund Beecher Wilson, Nettie Stevens, Walter Sutton and Theophilus Painter were all influenced by Boveri (Wilson, Stevens, and Painter actually worked with him).[14]

In his famous textbook The Cell in Development and Heredity, Wilson linked together the independent work of Boveri and Sutton (both around 1902) by naming the chromosome theory of inheritance the Boveri–Sutton chromosome theory (the names are sometimes reversed).[15] Ernst Mayr remarks that the theory was hotly contested by some famous geneticists: William Bateson, Wilhelm Johannsen, Richard Goldschmidt and T.H. Morgan, all of a rather dogmatic turn of mind. Eventually, complete proof came from chromosome maps in Morgan's own lab.[16]

The number of human chromosomes was published in 1923 by Theophilus Painter. By inspection through the microscope, he counted 24 pairs, which would mean 48 chromosomes. His error was copied by others and it was not until 1956 that the true number, 46, was determined by Indonesia-born cytogeneticist Joe Hin Tjio.[17]

Prokaryotes

The prokaryotes – bacteria and archaea – typically have a single circular chromosome, but many variations exist.[18] The chromosomes of most bacteria, which some authors prefer to call genophores, can range in size from only 130,000 base pairs in the endosymbiotic bacteria Candidatus Hodgkinia cicadicola[19] and Candidatus Tremblaya princeps,[20] to more than 14,000,000 base pairs in the soil-dwelling bacterium Sorangium cellulosum.[21] Spirochaetes of the genus Borrelia are a notable exception to this arrangement, with bacteria such as Borrelia burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease, containing a single linear chromosome.[22]

Structure in sequences

Prokaryotic chromosomes have less sequence-based structure than eukaryotes. Bacteria typically have a one-point (the origin of replication) from which replication starts, whereas some archaea contain multiple replication origins.[23] The genes in prokaryotes are often organized in operons, and do not usually contain introns, unlike eukaryotes.

DNA packaging

Prokaryotes do not possess nuclei. Instead, their DNA is organized into a structure called the nucleoid.[24][25] The nucleoid is a distinct structure and occupies a defined region of the bacterial cell. This structure is, however, dynamic and is maintained and remodeled by the actions of a range of histone-like proteins, which associate with the bacterial chromosome.[26] In archaea, the DNA in chromosomes is even more organized, with the DNA packaged within structures similar to eukaryotic nucleosomes.[27][28]

Certain bacteria also contain plasmids or other extrachromosomal DNA. These are circular structures in the cytoplasm that contain cellular DNA and play a role in horizontal gene transfer.[4] In prokaryotes (see nucleoids) and viruses,[29] the DNA is often densely packed and organized; in the case of archaea, by homology to eukaryotic histones, and in the case of bacteria, by histone-like proteins.

Bacterial chromosomes tend to be tethered to the plasma membrane of the bacteria. In molecular biology application, this allows for its isolation from plasmid DNA by centrifugation of lysed bacteria and pelleting of the membranes (and the attached DNA).

Prokaryotic chromosomes and plasmids are, like eukaryotic DNA, generally supercoiled. The DNA must first be released into its relaxed state for access for transcription, regulation, and replication.

Eukaryotes

Eukaryote DNA-en
Organization of DNA in a eukaryotic cell.

Chromosomes in eukaryotes are composed of chromatin fiber. Chromatin fiber is made of nucleosomes (histone octamers with part of a DNA strand attached to and wrapped around it). Chromatin fibers are packaged by proteins into a condensed structure called chromatin. Chromatin contains the vast majority of DNA and a small amount inherited maternally, can be found in the mitochondria. Chromatin is present in most cells, with a few exceptions, for example, red blood cells.

Chromatin allows the very long DNA molecules to fit into the cell nucleus. During cell division chromatin condenses further to form microscopically visible chromosomes. The structure of chromosomes varies through the cell cycle. During cellular division chromosomes are replicated, divided, and passed successfully to their daughter cells so as to ensure the genetic diversity and survival of their progeny. Chromosomes may exist as either duplicated or unduplicated. Unduplicated chromosomes are single double helixes, whereas duplicated chromosomes contain two identical copies (called chromatids or sister chromatids) joined by a centromere.

Chromatin Structures
The major structures in DNA compaction: DNA, the nucleosome, the 10 nm "beads-on-a-string" fibre, the 30 nm fibre and the metaphase chromosome.

Eukaryotes (cells with nuclei such as those found in plants, fungi, and animals) possess multiple large linear chromosomes contained in the cell's nucleus. Each chromosome has one centromere, with one or two arms projecting from the centromere, although, under most circumstances, these arms are not visible as such. In addition, most eukaryotes have a small circular mitochondrial genome, and some eukaryotes may have additional small circular or linear cytoplasmic chromosomes.

In the nuclear chromosomes of eukaryotes, the uncondensed DNA exists in a semi-ordered structure, where it is wrapped around histones (structural proteins), forming a composite material called chromatin.

Interphase chromatin

During interphase (the period of the cell cycle where the cell is not dividing), two types of chromatin can be distinguished:

  • Euchromatin, which consists of DNA that is active, e.g., being expressed as protein.
  • Heterochromatin, which consists of mostly inactive DNA. It seems to serve structural purposes during the chromosomal stages. Heterochromatin can be further distinguished into two types:
    • Constitutive heterochromatin, which is never expressed. It is located around the centromere and usually contains repetitive sequences.
    • Facultative heterochromatin, which is sometimes expressed.

Metaphase chromatin and division

HumanChromosomesChromomycinA3
Human chromosomes during metaphase

In the early stages of mitosis or meiosis (cell division), the chromatin double helix become more and more condensed. They cease to function as accessible genetic material (transcription stops) and become a compact transportable form. This compact form makes the individual chromosomes visible, and they form the classic four arm structure, a pair of sister chromatids attached to each other at the centromere. The shorter arms are called p arms (from the French petit, small) and the longer arms are called q arms (q follows p in the Latin alphabet; q-g "grande"; alternatively it is sometimes said q is short for queue meaning tail in French[30]). This is the only natural context in which individual chromosomes are visible with an optical microscope.

Mitotic metaphase chromosomes are best described by a linearly organized longitudinally compressed array of consecutive chromatin loops.[31]

During mitosis, microtubules grow from centrosomes located at opposite ends of the cell and also attach to the centromere at specialized structures called kinetochores, one of which is present on each sister chromatid. A special DNA base sequence in the region of the kinetochores provides, along with special proteins, longer-lasting attachment in this region. The microtubules then pull the chromatids apart toward the centrosomes, so that each daughter cell inherits one set of chromatids. Once the cells have divided, the chromatids are uncoiled and DNA can again be transcribed. In spite of their appearance, chromosomes are structurally highly condensed, which enables these giant DNA structures to be contained within a cell nucleus.

Human chromosomes

Chromosomes in humans can be divided into two types: autosomes (body chromosome(s)) and allosome (sex chromosome(s)). Certain genetic traits are linked to a person's sex and are passed on through the sex chromosomes. The autosomes contain the rest of the genetic hereditary information. All act in the same way during cell division. Human cells have 23 pairs of chromosomes (22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes), giving a total of 46 per cell. In addition to these, human cells have many hundreds of copies of the mitochondrial genome. Sequencing of the human genome has provided a great deal of information about each of the chromosomes. Below is a table compiling statistics for the chromosomes, based on the Sanger Institute's human genome information in the Vertebrate Genome Annotation (VEGA) database.[32] Number of genes is an estimate, as it is in part based on gene predictions. Total chromosome length is an estimate as well, based on the estimated size of unsequenced heterochromatin regions.

Genes and base pairs on chromosomes
Estimated number of genes and base pairs (in mega base pairs) on each human chromosome
Chromosome Genes[33] Total base pairs % of bases Sequenced base pairs[34] % sequenced base pairs
1 2000 247,199,719 8.0 224,999,719 91.02%
2 1300 242,751,149 7.9 237,712,649 97.92%
3 1000 199,446,827 6.5 194,704,827 97.62%
4 1000 191,263,063 6.2 187,297,063 97.93%
5 900 180,837,866 5.9 177,702,766 98.27%
6 1000 170,896,993 5.5 167,273,993 97.88%
7 900 158,821,424 5.2 154,952,424 97.56%
8 700 146,274,826 4.7 142,612,826 97.50%
9 800 140,442,298 4.6 120,312,298 85.67%
10 700 135,374,737 4.4 131,624,737 97.23%
11 1300 134,452,384 4.4 131,130,853 97.53%
12 1100 132,289,534 4.3 130,303,534 98.50%
13 300 114,127,980 3.7 95,559,980 83.73%
14 800 106,360,585 3.5 88,290,585 83.01%
15 600 100,338,915 3.3 81,341,915 81.07%
16 800 88,822,254 2.9 78,884,754 88.81%
17 1200 78,654,742 2.6 77,800,220 98.91%
18 200 76,117,153 2.5 74,656,155 98.08%
19 1500 63,806,651 2.1 55,785,651 87.43%
20 500 62,435,965 2.0 59,505,254 95.31%
21 200 46,944,323 1.5 34,171,998 72.79%
22 500 49,528,953 1.6 34,893,953 70.45%
X (sex chromosome) 800 154,913,754 5.0 151,058,754 97.51%
Y (sex chromosome) 50 57,741,652 1.9 25,121,652 43.51%
Total 21,000 3,079,843,747 100.0 2,857,698,560 92.79%

Number in various organisms

In eukaryotes

These tables give the total number of chromosomes (including sex chromosomes) in a cell nucleus. For example, most eukaryotes are diploid, like humans who have 22 different types of autosomes, each present as two homologous pairs, and two sex chromosomes. This gives 46 chromosomes in total. Other organisms have more than two copies of their chromosome types, such as bread wheat, which is hexaploid and has six copies of seven different chromosome types – 42 chromosomes in total.

Chromosome numbers in some plants
Plant Species #
Arabidopsis thaliana (diploid)[35] 10
Rye (diploid)[36] 14
Einkorn wheat (diploid)[37] 14
Maize (diploid or palaeotetraploid)[38] 20
Durum wheat (tetraploid)[37] 28
Bread wheat (hexaploid)[37] 42
Cultivated tobacco (tetraploid)[39] 48
Adder's tongue fern (polyploid)[40] approx. 1,200
Chromosome numbers (2n) in some animals
Species #
Indian muntjac 7
Common fruit fly 8
Pill millipede (Arthrosphaera fumosa)[41] 30
Earthworm (Octodrilus complanatus)[42] 36
Tibetan fox 36
Domestic cat[43] 38
Domestic pig 38
Laboratory mouse[44][45] 40
Laboratory rat[45] 42
Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)[46] 44
Syrian hamster[44] 44
Guppy (poecilia reticulata)[47] 46
Human[48] 46
Hares[49][50] 48
Gorillas, chimpanzees[48] 48
Domestic sheep 54
Garden snail[51] 54
Silkworm[52] 56
Elephants[53] 56
Cow 60
Donkey 62
Guinea pig[54] 64
Horse 64
Dog[55] 78
Hedgehog 90
Goldfish[56] 100-104
Kingfisher[57] 132
Chromosome numbers in other organisms
Species Large
Chromosomes
Intermediate
Chromosomes
Microchromosomes
Trypanosoma brucei 11 6 ≈100
Domestic pigeon
(Columba livia domestics)[58]
18 - 59-63
Chicken[59] 8 2 sex chromosomes 60

Normal members of a particular eukaryotic species all have the same number of nuclear chromosomes (see the table). Other eukaryotic chromosomes, i.e., mitochondrial and plasmid-like small chromosomes, are much more variable in number, and there may be thousands of copies per cell.

PLoSBiol3.5.Fig1bNucleus46Chromosomes
The 23 human chromosome territories during prometaphase in fibroblast cells.

Asexually reproducing species have one set of chromosomes that are the same in all body cells. However, asexual species can be either haploid or diploid.

Sexually reproducing species have somatic cells (body cells), which are diploid [2n] having two sets of chromosomes (23 pairs in humans with one set of 23 chromosomes from each parent), one set from the mother and one from the father. Gametes, reproductive cells, are haploid [n]: They have one set of chromosomes. Gametes are produced by meiosis of a diploid germ line cell. During meiosis, the matching chromosomes of father and mother can exchange small parts of themselves (crossover), and thus create new chromosomes that are not inherited solely from either parent. When a male and a female gamete merge (fertilization), a new diploid organism is formed.

Some animal and plant species are polyploid [Xn]: They have more than two sets of homologous chromosomes. Plants important in agriculture such as tobacco or wheat are often polyploid, compared to their ancestral species. Wheat has a haploid number of seven chromosomes, still seen in some cultivars as well as the wild progenitors. The more-common pasta and bread wheat types are polyploid, having 28 (tetraploid) and 42 (hexaploid) chromosomes, compared to the 14 (diploid) chromosomes in the wild wheat.[60]

In prokaryotes

Prokaryote species generally have one copy of each major chromosome, but most cells can easily survive with multiple copies.[61] For example, Buchnera, a symbiont of aphids has multiple copies of its chromosome, ranging from 10–400 copies per cell.[62] However, in some large bacteria, such as Epulopiscium fishelsoni up to 100,000 copies of the chromosome can be present.[63] Plasmids and plasmid-like small chromosomes are, as in eukaryotes, highly variable in copy number. The number of plasmids in the cell is almost entirely determined by the rate of division of the plasmid – fast division causes high copy number.

Karyotype

NHGRI human male karyotype
Karyogram of a human male

In general, the karyotype is the characteristic chromosome complement of a eukaryote species.[64] The preparation and study of karyotypes is part of cytogenetics.

Although the replication and transcription of DNA is highly standardized in eukaryotes, the same cannot be said for their karyotypes, which are often highly variable. There may be variation between species in chromosome number and in detailed organization. In some cases, there is significant variation within species. Often there is:

1. variation between the two sexes
2. variation between the germ-line and soma (between gametes and the rest of the body)
3. variation between members of a population, due to balanced genetic polymorphism
4. geographical variation between races
5. mosaics or otherwise abnormal individuals.

Also, variation in karyotype may occur during development from the fertilized egg.

The technique of determining the karyotype is usually called karyotyping. Cells can be locked part-way through division (in metaphase) in vitro (in a reaction vial) with colchicine. These cells are then stained, photographed, and arranged into a karyogram, with the set of chromosomes arranged, autosomes in order of length, and sex chromosomes (here X/Y) at the end.

Like many sexually reproducing species, humans have special gonosomes (sex chromosomes, in contrast to autosomes). These are XX in females and XY in males.

Historical note

Investigation into the human karyotype took many years to settle the most basic question: How many chromosomes does a normal diploid human cell contain? In 1912, Hans von Winiwarter reported 47 chromosomes in spermatogonia and 48 in oogonia, concluding an XX/XO sex determination mechanism.[65] Painter in 1922 was not certain whether the diploid number of man is 46 or 48, at first favouring 46.[66] He revised his opinion later from 46 to 48, and he correctly insisted on humans having an XX/XY system.[67]

New techniques were needed to definitively solve the problem:

  1. Using cells in culture
  2. Arresting mitosis in metaphase by a solution of colchicine
  3. Pretreating cells in a hypotonic solution 0.075 M KCl, which swells them and spreads the chromosomes
  4. Squashing the preparation on the slide forcing the chromosomes into a single plane
  5. Cutting up a photomicrograph and arranging the result into an indisputable karyogram.

It took until 1954 before the human diploid number was confirmed as 46.[68][69] Considering the techniques of Winiwarter and Painter, their results were quite remarkable.[70] Chimpanzees, the closest living relatives to modern humans, have 48 chromosomes as do the other great apes: in humans two chromosomes fused to form chromosome 2.

Aberrations

Chromosome 21
In Down syndrome, there are three copies of chromosome 21

Chromosomal aberrations are disruptions in the normal chromosomal content of a cell and are a major cause of genetic conditions in humans, such as Down syndrome, although most aberrations have little to no effect. Some chromosome abnormalities do not cause disease in carriers, such as translocations, or chromosomal inversions, although they may lead to a higher chance of bearing a child with a chromosome disorder. Abnormal numbers of chromosomes or chromosome sets, called aneuploidy, may be lethal or may give rise to genetic disorders.[71] Genetic counseling is offered for families that may carry a chromosome rearrangement.

The gain or loss of DNA from chromosomes can lead to a variety of genetic disorders. Human examples include:

  • Cri du chat, which is caused by the deletion of part of the short arm of chromosome 5. "Cri du chat" means "cry of the cat" in French; the condition was so-named because affected babies make high-pitched cries that sound like those of a cat. Affected individuals have wide-set eyes, a small head and jaw, moderate to severe mental health problems, and are very short.
  • Down syndrome, the most common trisomy, usually caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21 (trisomy 21). Characteristics include decreased muscle tone, stockier build, asymmetrical skull, slanting eyes and mild to moderate developmental disability.[72]
  • Edwards syndrome, or trisomy-18, the second most common trisomy.[73] Symptoms include motor retardation, developmental disability and numerous congenital anomalies causing serious health problems. Ninety percent of those affected die in infancy. They have characteristic clenched hands and overlapping fingers.
  • Isodicentric 15, also called idic(15), partial tetrasomy 15q, or inverted duplication 15 (inv dup 15).
  • Jacobsen syndrome, which is very rare. It is also called the terminal 11q deletion disorder.[74] Those affected have normal intelligence or mild developmental disability, with poor expressive language skills. Most have a bleeding disorder called Paris-Trousseau syndrome.
  • Klinefelter syndrome (XXY). Men with Klinefelter syndrome are usually sterile and tend to be taller and have longer arms and legs than their peers. Boys with the syndrome are often shy and quiet and have a higher incidence of speech delay and dyslexia. Without testosterone treatment, some may develop gynecomastia during puberty.
  • Patau Syndrome, also called D-Syndrome or trisomy-13. Symptoms are somewhat similar to those of trisomy-18, without the characteristic folded hand.
  • Small supernumerary marker chromosome. This means there is an extra, abnormal chromosome. Features depend on the origin of the extra genetic material. Cat-eye syndrome and isodicentric chromosome 15 syndrome (or Idic15) are both caused by a supernumerary marker chromosome, as is Pallister–Killian syndrome.
  • Triple-X syndrome (XXX). XXX girls tend to be tall and thin and have a higher incidence of dyslexia.
  • Turner syndrome (X instead of XX or XY). In Turner syndrome, female sexual characteristics are present but underdeveloped. Females with Turner syndrome often have a short stature, low hairline, abnormal eye features and bone development and a "caved-in" appearance to the chest.
  • Wolf–Hirschhorn syndrome, which is caused by partial deletion of the short arm of chromosome 4. It is characterized by growth retardation, delayed motor skills development, "Greek Helmet" facial features, and mild to profound mental health problems.
  • XYY syndrome. XYY boys are usually taller than their siblings. Like XXY boys and XXX girls, they are more likely to have learning difficulties.

Sperm aneuploidy

Exposure of males to certain lifestyle, environmental and/or occupational hazards may increase the risk of aneuploid spermatozoa.[75] In particular, risk of aneuploidy is increased by tobacco smoking,[76][77] and occupational exposure to benzene,[78] insecticides,[79][80] and perfluorinated compounds.[81] Increased aneuploidy is often associated with increased DNA damage in spermatozoa.

See also

Notes and references

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External links

Autosome

An autosome is a chromosome that is not an allosome (a sex chromosome). The members of an autosome pair in a diploid cell have the same morphology, unlike those in allosome pairs which may have different structures. The DNA in autosomes is collectively known as atDNA or auDNA.For example, humans have a diploid genome that usually contains 22 pairs of autosomes and one allosome pair (46 chromosomes total). The autosome pairs are labeled with numbers (1–22 in humans) roughly in order of their sizes in base pairs, while allosomes are labelled with their letters. By contrast, the allosome pair consists of two X chromosomes in females or one X and one Y chromosome in males. Unusual combinations of XYY, XXY, XXX, XXXX, XXXXX or XXYY, among other allosome combinations, are known to occur and usually cause developmental abnormalities.

Autosomes still contain sexual determination genes even though they are not sex chromosomes. For example, the SRY gene on the Y chromosome encodes the transcription factor TDF and is vital for male sex determination during development. TDF functions by activating the SOX9 gene on chromosome 17, so mutations of the SOX9 gene can cause humans with an ordinary Y chromosome to develop as females.All human autosomes have been identified and mapped by extracting the chromosomes from a cell arrested in metaphase or prometaphase and then staining them with a type of dye (most commonly, Giemsa). These chromosomes are typically viewed as karyograms for easy comparison. Clinical geneticists can compare the karyogram of an individual to a reference karyogram to discover the cytogenetic basis of certain phenotypes. For example, the karyogram of someone with Patau Syndrome would show that they possess three copies of chromosome 13. Karyograms and staining techniques can only detect large-scale disruptions to chromosomes—chromosomal aberrations smaller than a few million base pairs generally cannot be seen on a karyogram.

Chromosomal translocation

In genetics, chromosome translocation is a phenomenon that results in unusual rearrangement of chromosomes. This includes balanced and unbalanced translocation, with two main types: reciprocal-, and Robertsonian translocation. Reciprocal translocation is a chromosome abnormality caused by exchange of parts between non-homologous chromosomes. Two detached fragments of two different chromosomes are switched. Robertsonian translocation occurs when two non-homologous chromosomes get attached, meaning that given two healthy pairs of chromosomes, one of each pair "sticks" together.A gene fusion may be created when the translocation joins two otherwise-separated genes. It is detected on cytogenetics or a karyotype of affected cells. Translocations can be balanced (in an even exchange of material with no genetic information extra or missing, and ideally full functionality) or unbalanced (where the exchange of chromosome material is unequal resulting in extra or missing genes).

Chromosome 1

Chromosome 1 is the designation for the largest human chromosome. Humans have two copies of chromosome 1, as they do with all of the autosomes, which are the non-sex chromosomes. Chromosome 1 spans about 249 million nucleotide base pairs, which are the basic units of information for DNA. It represents about 8% of the total DNA in human cells.It was the last completed chromosome, sequenced two decades after the beginning of the Human Genome Project.

Chromosome 11

Chromosome 11 is one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans. Humans normally have two copies of this chromosome. Chromosome 11 spans about 135 million base pairs (the building material of DNA) and represents between 4 and 4.5 percent of the total DNA in cells. The shorter arm (p arm) is termed 11p while the longer arm (q arm) is 11q. At about 21.5 genes per megabase, chromosome 11 is one of the most gene-rich, and disease-rich, chromosomes in the human genome.

More than 40% of the 856 olfactory receptor genes in the human genome are located in 28 single-gene and multi-gene clusters along the chromosome.

Chromosome 12

Chromosome 12 is one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans. People normally have two copies of this chromosome. Chromosome 12 spans about 133 million base pairs (the building material of DNA) and represents between 4 and 4.5 percent of the total DNA in cells.

Chromosome 12 contains the Homeobox C gene cluster.

Chromosome 17

Chromosome 17 is one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans. People normally have two copies of this chromosome. Chromosome 17 spans more than 83 million base pairs (the building material of DNA) and represents between 2.5 and 3% of the total DNA in cells.

Chromosome 17 contains the Homeobox B gene cluster.

Chromosome 2

Chromosome 2 is one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans. People normally have two copies of this chromosome. Chromosome 2 is the second-largest human chromosome, spanning more than 242 million base pairs (the building material of DNA) and representing almost 8% of the total DNA in human cells.

Chromosome 2 contains the HOXD homeobox gene cluster.

Chromosome 3

Chromosome 3 is one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans. People normally have two copies of this chromosome. Chromosome 3 spans almost 200 million base pairs (the building material of DNA) and represents about 6.5 percent of the total DNA in cells.

Chromosome 6

Chromosome 6 is one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans. People normally have two copies of this chromosome. Chromosome 6 spans more than 170 million base pairs (the building material of DNA) and represents between 5.5 and 6% of the total DNA in cells. It contains the Major Histocompatibility Complex, which contains over 100 genes related to the immune response, and plays a vital role in organ transplantation.

Chromosome abnormality

A chromosomal disorder, disorder, anomaly, aberration, or mutation is a missing, extra, or irregular portion of chromosomal DNA. It can be from a typical number of chromosomes or a structural abnormality in one or more chromosomes. Chromosome mutation was formerly used in a strict sense to mean a change in a chromosomal segment, involving more than one gene. The term "karyotype" refers to the full set of chromosomes from an individual; this can be compared to a "normal" karyotype for the species via genetic testing. A chromosome anomaly may be detected or confirmed in this manner. Chromosome anomalies usually occur when there is an error in cell division following meiosis or mitosis. There are many types of chromosome anomalies. They can be organized into two basic groups, numerical and structural anomalies.

Karyotype

Karyotyping is the process by which cytogenetist take photographs of chromosomes in order to determine the chromosome complement of an individual, including the number of chromosomes and any abnormalies. The term is also used for the complete set of chromosomes in a species or in an individual organism and for a test that detects this complement or measures the number.

Karyotypes describe the chromosome count of an organism and what these chromosomes look like under a light microscope. Attention is paid to their length, the position of the centromeres, banding pattern, any differences between the sex chromosomes, and any other physical characteristics. The preparation and study of karyotypes is part of cytogenetics.

The study of whole sets of chromosomes is sometimes known as karyology. The chromosomes are depicted (by rearranging a photomicrograph) in a standard format known as a karyogram or idiogram: in pairs, ordered by size and position of centromere for chromosomes of the same size.

The basic number of chromosomes in the somatic cells of an individual or a species is called the somatic number and is designated 2n. In the germ-line (the sex cells) the chromosome number is n (humans: n = 23).p28 Thus, in humans 2n = 46.

So, in normal diploid organisms, autosomal chromosomes are present in two copies. There may, or may not, be sex chromosomes. Polyploid cells have multiple copies of chromosomes and haploid cells have single copies.

The study of karyotypes is important for cell biology and genetics, and the results may be used in evolutionary biology (karyosystematics) and medicine. Karyotypes can be used for many purposes; such as to study chromosomal aberrations, cellular function, taxonomic relationships, and to gather information about past evolutionary events.

Klinefelter syndrome

Klinefelter syndrome (KS) also known as 47,XXY or XXY, is the set of symptoms that result from two or more X chromosomes in males. The primary features are infertility and small testicles. Often, symptoms may be subtle and many people do not realize they are affected. Sometimes, symptoms are more prominent and may include weaker muscles, greater height, poor coordination, less body hair, breast growth, and less interest in sex. Often it is only at puberty that these symptoms are noticed. Intelligence is usually normal; however, reading difficulties and problems with speech are more common. Symptoms are typically more severe if three or more X chromosomes are present (48,XXXY syndrome or 49,XXXXY syndrome).Klinefelter syndrome usually occurs randomly. An older mother may have a slightly increased risk of a child with KS. The condition is not typically inherited from one's parents. The underlying mechanisms involves at least one extra X chromosome in addition to a Y chromosome such that the total chromosome number is 47 or more rather than the usual 46. KS is diagnosed by the genetic test known as a karyotype.While no cure is known, a number of treatments may help. Physical therapy, speech and language therapy, counselling, and adjustments of teaching methods may be useful. Testosterone replacement may be used in those who have significantly lower levels. Enlarged breasts may be removed by surgery. About half of affected males have a chance of fathering children with the help of assisted reproductive technology, but this is expensive and not risk free. Males appear to have a higher risk of breast cancer than typical, but still lower than that of females. People with the condition have a nearly normal life expectancy.Klinefelter syndrome is one of the most common chromosomal disorders, occurring in one to two per 1,000 live male births. It is named after the endocrinologist Harry Klinefelter, who identified the condition in the 1940s. In 1956, identification of the extra X chromosome was first noticed. Mice can also have the XXY syndrome, making them a useful research model.

Locus (genetics)

A locus (plural loci) in genetics is a fixed position on a chromosome, like the position of a gene or a marker (genetic marker). Each chromosome carries many genes; human's estimated 'haploid' protein coding genes are 19,000–20,000, on the 23 different chromosomes. A variant of the similar DNA sequence located at a given locus is called an allele. The ordered list of loci known for a particular genome is called a gene map. Gene mapping is the process of determining the locus for a particular biological trait.

Diploid and polyploid cells whose chromosomes have the same allele of a given gene at some locus are called homozygous with respect to that gene, while those that have different alleles of a given gene at a locus are called heterozygous with respect to that gene.

Ploidy

Ploidy () is the number of complete sets of chromosomes in a cell, and hence the number of possible alleles for autosomal and pseudoautosomal genes. Somatic cells, tissues, and individual organisms can be described according to the number of sets of chromosomes present (the "ploidy level"): monoploid (1 set), diploid (2 sets), triploid (3 sets), tetraploid (4 sets), pentaploid (5 sets), hexaploid (6 sets), heptaploid or septaploid (7 sets), etc. The generic term polyploid is often used to describe cells with three or more chromosome sets.Virtually all sexually reproducing organisms are made up of somatic cells that are diploid or greater, but ploidy level may vary widely between different organisms, between different tissues within the same organism, and at different stages in an organism's life cycle. Half of all known plant genera contain polyploid species, and about two-thirds of all grasses are polyploid. Many animals are uniformly diploid, though polyploidy is common in invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians. In some species, ploidy varies between individuals of the same species (as in the social insects), and in others, entire tissues and organ systems may be polyploid despite the rest of the body being diploid (as in the mammalian liver). For many organisms, especially plants and fungi, changes in ploidy level between generations are major drivers of speciation. In mammals and birds, ploidy changes are typically fatal. There is, however, evidence of polyploidy in organisms now considered to be diploid, suggesting that polyploidy has contributed to evolutionary diversification in plants and animals through successive rounds of polyploidization and rediploidization.Humans are diploid organisms, carrying two complete sets of chromosomes in their somatic cells: one set of 23 chromosomes from their father and one set of 23 chromosomes from their mother. The two sets combined provide a full complement of 46 chromosomes. This total number of individual chromosomes (counting all complete sets) is called the chromosome number. The number of chromosomes found in a single complete set of chromosomes is called the monoploid number (x). The haploid number (n) refers to the total number of chromosomes found in a gamete (a sperm or egg cell produced by meiosis in preparation for sexual reproduction). Under normal conditions, the haploid number is exactly half the total number of chromosomes present in the organism's somatic cells. For diploid organisms, the monoploid number and haploid number are equal; in humans, both are equal to 23. When a human germ cell undergoes meiosis, the diploid 46-chromosome complement is split in half to form haploid gametes. After fusion of a male and a female gamete (each containing 1 set of 23 chromosomes) during fertilization, the resulting zygote again has the full complement of 46 chromosomes: 2 sets of 23 chromosomes.

Sequence homology

Sequence homology is the biological homology between DNA, RNA, or protein sequences, defined in terms of shared ancestry in the evolutionary history of life. Two segments of DNA can have shared ancestry because of three phenomena: either a speciation event (orthologs), or a duplication event (paralogs), or else a horizontal (or lateral) gene transfer event (xenologs).Homology among DNA, RNA, or proteins is typically inferred from their nucleotide or amino acid sequence similarity. Significant similarity is strong evidence that two sequences are related by evolutionary changes from a common ancestral sequence. Alignments of multiple sequences are used to indicate which regions of each sequence are homologous.

Sex

Organisms of many species are specialized into male and female varieties, each known as a sex. Sexual reproduction involves the combining and mixing of genetic traits: specialized cells known as gametes combine to form offspring that inherit traits from each parent. The gametes produced by an organism define its sex: males produce small gametes (e.g. spermatozoa, or sperm, in animals; pollen in seed plants) while females produce large gametes (ova, or egg cells). Individual organisms which produce both male and female gametes are termed hermaphroditic. Gametes can be identical in form and function (known as isogamy), but, in many cases, an asymmetry has evolved such that two different types of gametes (heterogametes) exist (known as anisogamy).

Physical differences are often associated with the different sexes of an organism; these sexual dimorphisms can reflect the different reproductive pressures the sexes experience. For instance, mate choice and sexual selection can accelerate the evolution of physical differences between the sexes.

Among humans and other mammals, males typically carry an X and a Y chromosome (XY), whereas females typically carry two X chromosomes (XX), which are a part of the XY sex-determination system. Humans may also be intersex. Other animals have different sex-determination systems, such as the ZW system in birds, the X0 system in insects, and various environmental systems, for example in crustaceans. Fungi may also have more complex allelic mating systems, with sexes not accurately described as male, female, or hermaphroditic.

XY sex-determination system

The XY sex-determination system is the sex-determination system found in humans, most other mammals, some insects (Drosophila), some snakes, and some plants (Ginkgo). In this system, the sex of an individual is determined by a pair of sex chromosomes. Females typically have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and are called the homogametic sex. Males typically have two different kinds of sex chromosomes (XY), and are called the heterogametic sex.

In humans, the presence of the Y chromosome is responsible for triggering male development; in the absence of the Y chromosome, the fetus will undergo female development. More specifically, it is the SRY gene located on the Y chromosome that is of importance to male differentiation. Variations to the sex gene karyotype could include rare disorders such as XX males (often due to translocation of the SRY gene to the X chromosome) or XY gonadal dysgenesis in people who are externally female (due to mutations in the SRY gene). In addition, other rare genetic variations such as Turners (XO) and Klinefelters (XXY) are seen as well.

The XY system contrasts in several ways with the ZW sex-determination system found in birds, some insects, many reptiles, and various other animals, in which the heterogametic sex is female. It had been thought for several decades that in all snakes sex was determined by the ZW system, but there had been observations of unexpected effects in the genetics of species in the families Boidae and Pythonidae; for example, parthenogenic reproduction produced only females rather than males, which is the opposite of what is to be expected in the ZW system. In the early years of the 21st century such observations prompted research that demonstrated that all pythons and boas so far investigated definitely have the XY system of sex determination.A temperature-dependent sex determination system is found in some reptiles.

X chromosome

The X chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes (allosomes) in many organisms, including mammals (the other is the Y chromosome), and is found in both males and females. It is a part of the XY sex-determination system and X0 sex-determination system. The X chromosome was named for its unique properties by early researchers, which resulted in the naming of its counterpart Y chromosome, for the next letter in the alphabet, following its subsequent discovery.

Y chromosome

The Y chromosome is one of two sex chromosomes (allosomes) in mammals, including humans, and many other animals. The other is the X chromosome. Y is normally the sex-determining chromosome in many species, since it is the presence or absence of Y that typically determines the male or female sex of offspring produced in sexual reproduction. In mammals, the Y chromosome contains the gene SRY, which by default triggers male development. The DNA in the human Y chromosome is composed of about 59 million base pairs. The Y chromosome is passed only from father to son. With a 30% difference between humans and chimpanzees, the Y chromosome is one of the fastest-evolving parts of the human genome. To date, over 200 Y-linked genes have been identified. All Y-linked genes are expressed and (apart from duplicated genes) hemizygous (present on only one chromosome) except in the cases of aneuploidy such as XYY syndrome or XXYY syndrome.

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