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Heterochromatin is a superstructural form of chromatin consisting of nucleosome units wound into a chromatin fibre which then forms loops along a central axis.

It is found within 3 locations in the cell:

  • outskirts of nucleus, near nucleolar membrane
  • randomly sited masses throughout the nucleus termed karyosomes
  • nucleolar heterochromatin

Heterochromatin, with its inhibition of DNA unravelling within its structure, is associated with a less metabolically-active cell.

It binds basic dyes.

Last reviewed 01/2018