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Definition of Chromosomes

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Chromosomes: The microscopically visible carriers of the genetic material. They are composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and proteins and, under a microscope, look like little rods.

Humans normally have 46 chromosomes -- 44 autosomes (nonsex chromosomes) plus XX sex chromosomes in the case of the female and XY sex chromosomes in the case of the male.

For a more thorough consideration of our chromosomes, please see the entry to Chromosome.

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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