You may recall that the interphase nucleus has a loose and indistinct network of nucleoprotein fibres called chromatin. But during different stages of cell division, cells show structured chromosomes in place of the nucleus.
Chromatin contains DNA and some basic proteins called histones, some non-histone proteins and also RNA. A single human cell has approximately two metre long thread of DNA distributed among its forty six (twenty three pairs) chromosomes. You will study the details of DNA packaging in the form of a chromosome in class XII.
Every chromosome essentially has a primary constriction or the centromere on the sides of which disc shaped structures called kinetochores are present (Figure 8.11). Based on the position of the centromere, the chromosomes can be classified into four types (Figure 8.12). The metacentric chromosome has middle centromere forming two equal arms of the chromosome. The sub-metacentric chromosome has centromere slightly away from the middle of the chromosome resulting into one shorter arm and one longer arm. In case of acrocentric chromosome the centromere is situated close to its end forming one extremely short and one very long arm, whereas the telocentric chromosome has a terminal centromere.
Sometimes a few chromosomes have non-staining secondary constrictions at a constant location. This gives the appearance of a small fragment called the satellite.