Human metaphase chromosomes, prepared for light microscopy were examined by scanning electron microscopy. Use of an osmium impregnation technique eliminated the need for sputter-coating and allowed high-resolution visualization of uncoated specimens. Chromosomes were of three-dimensional cylindrical profile, with well-defined chromatids and centromeres. Prior to Giemsa-banding a smooth surface morphology was observed. Relaxation of chromosome integrity by Giemsa-banding pretreatment allowed resolution of several orders of chromosome structure not previously demonstrated by scanning electron microscopy. The observed organization of the chromatin fibres allowed parallels to be drawn with the radial loop model of chromosome construction as described by Marsden and Laemmli.

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