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Chromosomes

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Uploaded on Aug 3, 2007

Chromosomes

Chromosomes contain the genetic material deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. In association with proteins, the twisted strands of DNA become coiled and folded to give chromosomes a beaded appearance. Each bead represents a gene-a length of DNA coding for the synthesis of one or more proteins. There are thought to be more than five hundred genes on each of the cell's forty-six chromosomes. Here a progression is shown from a chromosome, as it appears under the microscope, to the molecular architecture of DNA, shown diagrammatically to illustrate the double helix. The chromosome content of every cell in the body consists of forty-six individual chromosomes, except for the sperm and ova, which have only twenty-three. Highly magnified, this chromosome set shows the X (red) and the Y (blue) sex chromosomes. A combination of X and Y denotes male characteristics, while an XX pair results in the birth of a girl. Since sperm contain either X or the Y chromosome and the ova only the X, sex is governed by the sperm.

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