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A nucleosome is a unit made of DNA and histones. It is found in the cell nucleus in eukaryotes. All chromatin consists of nucleosomes. Nucleosomes can be seen with an electron microscope as bead-like structures along the DNA.


The histones make up the central core particle of the nucleosome. The DNA is wrapped around this protein complex in two turns, with each turn consisting of about 80 base pairs. Together with the DNA linking two nucleosomes, there are about 200 bpss of DNA per nucleosome.

The main purpose of nucleosomes seems to be organization and packing of DNA. Stacked nucleosomes are called 10-nm-fiber and have a packing rate of ~6, compared to "free" DNA (per nm length). A chain of nucleosomes can be arranged in a 30-nm-fiber, a helical structure with a packing rate of ~40. This structure needs the H1 histone.


Formation of a nucleosome occurs when histones bind to TATA boxes.