Chromatin vs. Chromosome

In the nucleus, the DNA double helix is packaged by special proteins (histones) to form a complex called chromatin. The chromatin undergoes further condensation to form the chromosome. So while the chromatin is a lower order of DNA organization, chromosomes are the higher order of DNA organization. An organism’s genetic content is counted in terms of the chromosome pairs present. e.g. humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes.

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Chromatin

Chromosome

Definition In the nucleus, the DNA double helix is packaged by special proteins (histones) to form a complex called chromatin. The chromatin undergoes further condensation to form the chromosome. A compact structure of nucleic acids and protein found in the nucleus of most living cells, carrying genetic information in the form of genes.
Structure Composed of nucleosomes-a complex of DNA and proteins (called histones). Represent DNA folded on nucleoproteins by a magnitude of 50. The chromatin fiber is app. 10 nm in diameter. Chromosomes are condensed Chromatin Fibers. They are a higher order of DNA organization, where DNA is condensed at least by 10,000 times onto itself.
Appearance Chromatin Fibers are Long and thin. They are uncoiled structures found inside the nucleus. Chromosomes are compact, thick and ribbon-like. These are coiled structures seen prominently during cell division.
Pairs Chromatin is unpaired. Chromosome is paired.
Metabolic activity Permissive to DNA replication, RNA synthesis (transcription) and recombination events. Refractory to these processes.
Presence Found throughout the cell cycle. Distinctly visible during cell division (metaphase, anaphase) as highly condensed structures upto several thousand nm.
Visualization Electron microscope (beads on string appearance) Light microscope (classic four-arm structure when duplicated)
Conformation May have open (euchromatin) or compact (heterochromatin) conformations, which is dynamically regulated during the cell-cycle stages. Predominantly heterochromatic state with a predetermined position in the nucleus and a specific shape such as metacentric, submetacentric, acrocentric, telocentric.

Contents: Chromatin vs Chromosome

Chromosome structure - (1) Chromatid. (2) Centromere. (3) Short arm. (4) Long arm.
Chromosome structure - (1) Chromatid. (2) Centromere. (3) Short arm. (4) Long arm.

edit Structure and Formation

The structural entity of chromatin is the nucleosome — a complex of DNA and histones. A chromatin fiber is approximately 10 nm in diameter. Chromatins represent DNA folded on nucleoproteins by a magnitude of 50.

Chromosomes are formed of compacted chromatin where DNA is condensed at least by 10,000 times onto itself.

The major structures in DNA compaction; DNA, the nucleosome, the 10nm "beads-on-a-string" fibre (chromatin), 30nm fibre (chromatin), and the metaphase chromosomes. Click to enlarge.
The major structures in DNA compaction; DNA, the nucleosome, the 10nm "beads-on-a-string" fibre (chromatin), 30nm fibre (chromatin), and the metaphase chromosomes. Click to enlarge.

edit Metabolic activity

While chromatin is permissive to DNA replication, RNA synthesis (transcription) and recombination events the chromosomes are refractory to these processes as it is tightly coiled.

edit Presence

Chromatin is found in all stages of the cell cycle and they undergo further coiling to form chromosomes that are distinctly visible during cell division as highly condensed structures (upto several thousand nm).

edit Visualization

Chromatin is visible in a cell via an electron microscope where it shows the typical beads on string appearance. Chromosomes are much easier to visualize and can be seen using a light microscope.

edit Conformation

Chromatin has either open (euchromatin) or compact (heterochromatin) conformations, which is dynamically regulated during the cell-cycle stages. Chromosomes have a predominantly heterochromatic state with a predetermined position in the nucleus and a specific shape such as metacentric, submetacentric, acrocentric or telocentric.

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