Nucleosome Model of Chromosome
Does the DNA really need to FOLD inside the nucleus?
A diploid human cell contains approximately 6.4 billion base pairs. These 6.4 billion base pairs are distributed in our 23 pairs (2n = 46) of chromosomes. We know that each chromosome contain a single linear segment of DNA.
According to Watson and Crick model, the distance between each base pair in a DNA double helix is 0.34 nm. Thus, the 6.4 billion base pair will constitute a total length of about 2.2 m DNA strand. The total length of DNA of a single human cell is approximately 2.2 meters long (when all 46 DNA strands are joined end to end).
The size of the nucleus in which the chromatin situated is about 10 µm in diameter. Thus, it is evident that the 2.2 m long DNA should fold several times to fit in the nucleus of 10 µm diameter. The exact nature and pattern of folding of DNA strands in the nucleus disclose the organization of genetic material in the cells.