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noun, plural: chromatins

A complex of nucleic acids (e.g. DNA or RNA) and proteins (histones), which condenses to form a chromosome during cell division. In eukaryotic cells, it is found within the cell nucleus whereas in prokaryotic cells, it is found within the nucleoid. Its functions are to package DNA into a smaller volume to fit in the cell, strengthen the DNA to allow mitosis and meiosis, and to serve as a mechanism to control expression.


It can be easily recognized through staining, hence its name, which literally means coloured material.

Word origin: Greek khrōma, khrōmat-, color + -in.

Related terms: barr chromatin body, Y chromatin, chromatin body.

Compare: chromosome.