Topological organization of DNA molecules in the macronucleus of hypotrichous ciliated protozoa

Chromosome Res. 2002;10(2):165-73. doi: 10.1023/a:1014957303627.


The DNA in the macronucleus of a hypotrichous ciliate occurs as millions of short molecules packed into dense chromatin bodies 0.1-2 microm in diameter. We have studied by electron microscopy the organization of DNA molecules in these chromatin bodies of macronuclei lysed in water at pH 9. Proteinase K treatment of lysed macronuclei progressively releases from chromatin bodies many rosettes of DNA molecules bound at one or both ends to a central core of protein. With longer treatment with proteinase K, rosettes disappear, leaving individual free DNA molecules. We propose that, in the native state, both ends of DNA molecules are bound through telomere-binding protein to a central core to form rosettes. Many rosettes, with collapsed DNA loops, aggregate to form a chromatin body. Chromatin bodies are believed to dissociate into individual collapsed rosettes to form the granules in the forward zone of the replication band. In the rear zone of the band, the rosettes dissociate, presumably as a result of release of telomere-binding protein, which is preliminary to the replication of the DNA molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Chromatin / metabolism*
  • Ciliophora / genetics*
  • DNA, Protozoan / metabolism*
  • Endopeptidase K / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • Endopeptidase K