Genes on Chromosomes

This page discusses how the genes are arranged on the chromosomes. The backbone of chromosomes is the DNA double helix. Beyond this, however, the chromosomes are highly organized and "packaged" with a number of different types of proteins.

The figure below shows diagrammatically how the genes are arranged on the chromosome: genes on chromosomes

Genes can be thought of as analogous to islands in a sea of repetitive DNA. In this diagram four genes are labeled 1-4. The stripped areas between represents repetitive DNA.

On the webpage on Repetitive DNA, we discuss its nature in more detail. Basically this DNA is non-coding, meaning it does not code for any proteins or RNA. It is not transcribed (see Basic Genetics). Repetitive DNA is small sequences of DNA repeated thousands to hundred-of-thousands of times.

The picture is actually even more complex than drawn. (Did I hear another sigh?) The genes themselves are actually split into pieces. So Gene 1 for example might itself be split up into several subgene regions. More on this is discussed on the Split Genes webpage.


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