The nucleus is the control center of the cell. The cell nucleus can control other actions in the cell by expressing certain segments of its DNA, which creates proteins that perform specific actions. Proteins can vary from enzymes to structural components, but they are essential for almost all processes in the cell and the human body.
The nucleus directs all cellular activity by controlling protein synthesis. The nucleus contains encoded instructions for synthesizing proteins in a coiled molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The cell’s DNA is packaged into the nucleus in a structural form called chromatin. Chromatin is made up of DNA wrapped tightly around spherical proteins called histones. As the cell prepares to divide, the DNA unwinds from the histones and takes the form of chromosomes, X-shaped structures visible within the nucleus before cell division. The chromatin packaging of DNA allows all of the cell’s DNA to fit into the combined space of the nucleus. If DNA were not packed into chromatin, it would spill out into a space about 100 times larger than the cell itself.
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