Chromatin was originally identified by W. Flemming in 1882 as not much more than the stainable substance of the cell nucleus. Flemming named this substance according to the Greek word “chroma”, meaning color. In 1911 chromatin was characterized as proteins, named histones, that were attached to nucleic acid (DNA). In the following years it became clear that chromatin formed the structural basis of genetic information. Not until more than 30 years later the DNA, and not the histone proteins as was widely expected, was identified as the carrier of the genetic information. In 1952 the role of DNA in inheritance was confirmed and not much later Watson and Crick discovered the double-helical structure of DNA based on the DNA crystal analyses of Franklin, Gosling and Wilkins.

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B. van Steensel (Bas)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Bemmel, J. (2012, May 9). Chromatin Flavors: Chromatin composition and domain organization in Drosophila melanogaster. Retrieved from