Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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State of variable density or condensation of different chromosomes or between segments of the same chromosome. Conventionally used to specify eukaryotic chromosomes or regions thereof that are out of phase with respect to coiling cycle and exhibit differential staining properties, generally consistent with regions of inactivation, or negative heteropycnosis; in this latter sense, an example is the sex chromatin in an inactivated X chromosome, which stains as the Barr body.

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