The arrangement of transcriptional units in the loops of lampbrush chromosomes from oocyte nuclei of urodele amphibia and from primary nuclei of the green alga Acetabularia have been studied in the electron microscope using spread preparations. Loops with different patterns of arrangement of matrix units (i.e. to a first approximation, transcriptional units) can be distinguished: (i) loops consisting of one active transcriptional unit; (ii) loops containing one active transcriptional unit plus additional fibril-free, i.e. apparently untranscribed, intercepts that may include ‘spacer’ regions; (iii) loops containing two or more transcriptional units arranged in identical or changing polarities, with or without interspersed apparent spacer regions. Morphological details of the transcriptional complexes are described. The observations are not compatible with the concept that one loop reflects one and only one transcriptional unit but, rather, lead to a classification of loop types according to the arrangement of their transcriptional units. We propose that the lampbrush chromosome loop can represent a unit for the coordinate transcription of either one gene or a set of several (different) genes.

This content is only available via PDF.