Euchromatin is a lightly packed form of chromatin that is rich in gene concentration, and is often (but not always) under active transcription. Unlike heterochromatin, it is found in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes.


The structure of euchromatin is reminiscient of an unfolded set of beads along a string, where those beads represent nucleosomes. Nucleosomes consist of eight proteins known as histones, with approximately 147 base pairs of DNA wound around them; in euchromatin this wrapping is loose so that the raw DNA may be accessed. Each core histone possesses a `tail' structure which can vary in several ways; it is thought that these variations act as "master control switches" which determine the overall arrangement of the chromatin. In particular, it is believed that the presence of methylated lysine 4 on the histone tails acts as a general marker for euchromatin.


Euchromatin generally appears as light-colored bands when stained in GTG banding and observed under an optical microscope; in contrast to heterochromatin, which stains darkly. This lighter staining is due to the less compact structure of euchromatin. It should be noted that in prokaryotes, euchromatin is the "only" form of chromatin present; this indicates that the heterochromatin structure evolved later along with the nucleus, possibly as a mechanism to handle increasing genome size


Euchromatin participates in the active transcription of DNA to mRNA products. The unfolded structure allows gene regulatory proteins and RNA polymerase complexes to bind to the DNA sequence, which can then initiate the transcription process. Not all euchromatin is necessarily transcribed, but in general that which is not is transformed into heterochromatin to protect the genes while they are not in use. There is therefore a direct link to how actively productive a cell is and the amount of euchromatin that can be found in its nucleus. It is thought that the cell uses transformation from euchromatin into heterochromatin as a method of controlling gene expression and replication, since such processes behave differently on densely compacted chromatin- this is known as the `accessibility hypothesis'. One example of constitutive euchromatin that is 'always turned on' is housekeeping genes, which codes for the proteins needed for basic functions of cell survival.

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  • euchromatin — euchromatin. См. эухроматин. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • Euchromatin —   das, s, die nur schwach anfärbbaren Chromosomenabschnitte, Chromosomen …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Euchromatin — Euchromatin, beim Übergang vom Teilungskern zum Interphasekern sich auflockerndes Chromatin, schwächer anfärbbar als das kondensierte ⇒ Heterochromatin, wird in der Interphase vor dem Heterochromatin repliziert. Nur das E. wird transkribiert …   Deutsch wörterbuch der biologie

  • euchromatin — [yo͞o krō′mə tin] n. [Ger: see EU & CHROMATIN] Biol. the portion of the chromatin that accepts a light stain and contains most of the active genetic material: cf. HETEROCHROMATIN …   English World dictionary

  • Euchromatin — Das Euchromatin stellt die Bereiche des aufgelockerten Chromatingerüsts im Karyoplasma einer Zelle dar. Im Gegensatz zum Heterochromatin liegt die Desoxyribonucleinsäure (DNA) hier in weniger dicht gepackter Form vor. Im Euchromatin befinden sich …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • euchromatin — noun Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary Date: 1932 the part of chromatin that is genetically active and is largely composed of genes • euchromatic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • euchromatin — The chromosomal regions that are diffuse during interphase and condensed at the time of nuclear division. They show what is considered to be the normal pattern of staining (eu = true) as opposed to heterochromatin …   Dictionary of molecular biology

  • euchromatin — euchromatic /yooh kreuh mat ik/, adj. /yooh kroh meuh tin/, n. Genetics. the part of a chromosome that condenses maximally during metaphase and contains most of the genetically active material. [1930 35; EU + CHROMATIN] * * * …   Universalium

  • euchromatin — noun uncoiled dispersed threads of chromosomal material that occurs during interphase; it stains lightly with basic dyes …   Wiktionary

  • euchromatin — The parts of chromosomes that, during interphase, are uncoiled dispersed threads and not stained by ordinary dyes; metabolically active, in contrast to the inert heterochromatin. * * * eu·chro·ma·tin ( )yü krō mət ən n the genetically active… …   Medical dictionary

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