Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

In 2017 we celebrated five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

Tight Genes
17 January 2013

Tight Genes

Vast amounts of genetic information are squeezed into the cells of every living creature. Even in E. coli bacteria, one of the simplest life-forms, DNA is compressed into coils and loops, creating a single, circular chromosome. If unravelled, it would be more than 1,000 times the length of the rod-shaped cell encasing it. Scientists recently identified a type of protein in E. coli that helps to compress the DNA. This computer simulation shows how molecules of this protein, known as MatP (shown in green, light blue, yellow and purple) attach themselves to a DNA molecule and help it maintain a looped shape. Experiments showed that in E.coli bacteria that lacked MatP, the DNA became less compressed and cell division was affected. Understanding more about the internal structure of bacteria may help in the development of drugs to fight infection.

Written by Mick Warwicker

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More