Scientists discover how X chromosome gets its shape, solving one of life's greatest mysteries
Scientists in Britain have finally solved one of the greatest mysteries of life: how chromosomes get their X shape. Chromosomes, discovered in the late 1800s, are DNA molecules which contain the genetic material of an organism.
All chromosomes, without exception, either go through or end up with an X shape before the cells of an organism divide.
But it was always a mystery how they are X-shaped. While Biology students across the world study that chromosomes get their shape during cell division, the exact reason behind their X shape was not known.
It has been discovered that a protein called shugosin "locks" the chromosomes into X shapes. Shugosins are defined as evolutionary conserved proteins with specific functions to ensure stability of respective chromosomes during the cell division.
The life-defining breakthrough, with an obvious potential to be added in Biology textbooks worldwide, came in a study led by Professor Daniel Panne, of the University of Leicester, and Dr Benjamin Rowland, of the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
The research is published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
Dr Rowland reportedly said: "A chromosome actually consists of two identical long DNA threads that at first are connected along their entire length."
"A host of ring-shaped cohesin molecules holds the two threads together. When a cell is about to divide, the cohesin rings open and the arms of the DNA come apart."
The researchers discovered that the protein, also known as SGO1, locks the cohesin rings giving chromosomes their X shape.
Professor Panne was quoted as saying by Sky News: "It is exciting to finally understand at a molecular and atomic level how the iconic X shape of chromosomes during cell division is generated.
"This has not only intrigued generations of scientists but is also important for our understanding of how this process can go wrong in disease."