Unravel the DNA from a single cell in your body and it would stretch from your head to your feet. This string of genetic information is coiled and folded so precisely that sequences of genes, from various points along its length, are carefully distributed on the 46 chromosomes that determine how our bodies work and look. Recent advances in a technique called chromosome conformation capture – in which DNA is treated with chemicals so that distances between parts of the strand can be calculated – have enabled scientists to model the structure of chromosomes in 3D with greater accuracy than ever before. This is important to help understand how our genes work and why things sometimes go wrong. Pictured is a computer generated image (CGI) of the human X chromosome, with colours from red to blue representing increasing depth at which the component parts are buried in the complex structure.
Written by Mick Warwicker
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.