Abstract

Three-dimensional reconstruction of an asymmetric biological ultrastructure has been achieved by tomographic analysis of electron micrographs of sections tilted on a goniometer specimen stage. Aligned micrographs could be displayed as red-green three-dimensional movies. The techniques have been applied to portions of in situ transcription units of a Balbiani ring in the polytene chromosomes of the midge Chironomus tentans. Current data suggest a DNA compaction of about 8 to 1 in a transcription unit. Nascent ribonucleoprotein granules display an imperfect sixfold helical arrangement around the chromatin axis.

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