Research NewsX-ray Crystallography

Researchers Get Their First Good Look at the Nucleosome

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Science  19 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5333, pp. 1763-1764
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5333.1763

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The cell's nucleus is a miracle of packaging, able to cram up to 2 meters of DNA into a space just a few micrometers in diameter. Now, researchers have determined the x-ray crystallographic structure of the molecular machinery responsible for this feat, a fundamental DNA packaging unit called the nucleosome core particle. The structure's resolution--2.8 angstroms--is good enough to distinguish about 80% of the atoms in the protein component of the particle and all of those in the DNA. The information should help researchers understand such dynamic aspects of nuclear function as gene transcription and DNA replication and repair.