Electron microscopy of whole mount metaphase chromosomes

J. B. Rattner, A. Branch, B. A. Hamkalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Whole mount metaphase chromosomes, from cultured L cells, have been centrifuged onto grids and examined by electron microscopy. Compact and dispersed chromosome forms provide extensive ultrastructural information. Condensed chromosome arms appear as packed fibers with centromeric heterochromatin identifiable because it stains more intensely than the rest of the chromosome. Kinetochores are readily visible in these preparations. Under appropriate isolation conditions, it is possible to obtain mitotic spindles in which bundles of microtubules remain attached to kinetochores, suggesting that the kinetochores retain basic structural integrity throughout the isolation procedure. Dispersal of metaphase chromosomes by treatment with formalin and distilled water shows that these chromosomes are composed of a basic fiber that is normally highly condensed. This fiber is made up of regularly repeating 70-90 Å diameter nucleoprotein granules separated from neighboring granules by a 20-40 Å diameter fiber whose continuity is maintained by DNA. This structural arrangement is totally analagous to that reported for interphase chromatin from a variety of sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-338
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1975
Externally publishedYes


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