<cell biology> The self-replicating genetic structures of cells containing the cellular DNA that bears in its nucleotide sequence the linear array of genes.

The DNA of eukaryotes is subdivided into chromosomes, that consist of a number of chromosomes whose DNA is associated with various proteins. The chromosomes become more tightly packed at mitosis and become aligned on the metaphase plate. Each chromosome has a characteristic length and banding pattern.

In prokaryotes, chromosomal DNA is circular, and the entire genome is carried on one chromosome.

See: C banding, G banding.

(10 Nov 1998)