The shades of gray of the chromatin fiber: recent literature provides new insights into the structure of chromatin

Bioessays. 2015 Jan;37(1):46-51. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400144. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


The chromatin fiber consists of a string of nucleosomes connected by linker DNA regions. The hierarchy of folding of this fiber within the cell has long been controversial, and the existence of an originally described 30 nm fiber has been debated and reviewed extensively. This review contextualizes two recent papers on this topic that suggest the 30 nm fiber to be an over-simplification. The idealized model from the first study provides good insight into the constraints and histone participation in the maintenance of the fiber structure. The second paper provides a theoretical description of a more realistic view of the highly heterogeneous and dynamic chromatin organization in the in vivo setting. It is now time to abandon the highly regular "one start" solenoidal 30 nm structure and replace it with a more realistic highly dynamic, polymorphic fiber.

Keywords: 30 nm fiber; chromatin; nucleosomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism


  • Chromatin